At the Ordinary Council Meeting held on 20 September 2022, Council resolved, amongst other things, to seek the community’s feedback on any potential future sale, lease or gift of part of the Council-owned land at 84-90 High Street, Shepparton (High and Rowe Streets Car Park, shown below highlighted in red) for affordable housing.
In June 2018, the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (the Act) was amended to include the objective “to facilitate the provision of Affordable Housing in Victoria”, requiring Council, in its role as Planning Authority, to consider the need and opportunity to implement Affordable Housing outcomes. The Act defines “Affordable Housing” as “housing, including Social Housing that is appropriate for the housing needs of very low, low and moderate income households”.
Following extensive consultation, Council resolved to adopt the Greater Shepparton Affordable Housing Strategy: Houses for People 2020 (the Affordable Housing Strategy) in April 2020. Council also subsequently resolved to form the Greater Shepparton Affordable Housing Reference Group to provide expert advice on ways that Council can realise Affordable Housing outcomes.
In late 2019, the Affordable Housing Strategy found that Greater Shepparton was estimated to have the highest homeless rate in regional Victoria, with 5.56 homeless persons per 1,000 people, and 1,041 households on the waiting list for social housing. Rental affordability fell by 10% between 2008 and 2018, with 27% of low-income households experiencing housing stress. With these alarming statistics, it was estimated that 42% of all forecast dwelling supply needed to be delivered as Affordable Housing to meet demand in 2036.
Following an investigation by Affordable Development Outcomes Pty Ltd into housing affordability in Greater Shepparton found that between December 2018 and June 2022 there was a significant increase in households on the Victorian Housing Register from 1,041 households on the waiting list to 1,674 (904 households are now considered priorities for housing assistance). This alarming statistic means that there are now more households on the waiting list for Affordable Housing in Greater Shepparton than there is current supply.
The Social Housing Site Assessment Report prepared by SEMZ Property Advisory and Project Management Pty Ltd (SEMZ) evaluated 16 sites potentially capable of accommodating Affordable Housing across Shepparton and Mooroopna, including Council-owned sites, and sites identified in submissions to Council on the sale of the Edward, Maude and Nixon Streets Car Park. The SEMZ Report identified the four Council-owned sites in the Shepparton CBD as the most appropriate sites to accommodate Affordable Housing, specifically:
- 5 Edward Street, 115-121 Maude Street and 92 Nixon Street, Shepparton (Edward, Maude and Nixon Streets Car Park);
- 84-90 High Street, Shepparton (High and Rowe Streets Car Park);
- 103 Fryers Street, Shepparton (Edward and Fryers Streets Car Park); and
- 57 Welsford Street, Shepparton (part of the Welsford Street Car Park).
At the Ordinary Council Meeting held on 20 September 2022, Council resolved, amongst other things to:
- “undertake a community engagement process in accordance with the Greater Shepparton City Council Community Engagement Policy 2021 to seek the community’s feedback on any potential future sale, lease or gift of Council-owned land for Affordable Housing at:
- the south east corner block of 84-90 High Street, Shepparton (High and Rowe Streets Car Park)”
In the event that Council intends to sell, gift or lease the land in the future additional community consultation will be undertaken. Sections 114 and 115 of the Local Government Act 2020 requires Council to publish a notice of its intention to sell the land and undertake a community engagement process in accordance with its community engagement policy.
A number of planning documents and strategies have been prepared that assessed or considered the need for Social and Affordable Housing and increased residential development in urban centres across Greater Shepparton, particularly the Shepparton CBD.
The main documents are:
Affordable Housing is defined by the State Government under the Planning and Environment Act 1987 as “Housing, including Social Housing that is appropriate for the housing needs of very low, low and moderate income households”.
Following extensive consultation, Council resolved to adopt the Greater Shepparton Affordable Housing Strategy: Houses for People 2020 (the Strategy) in April 2020. In late 2019, the Strategy determined that Greater Shepparton was estimated to have the highest homeless rate in regional Victoria, with 5.56 homeless persons per 1,000 people, with 1,041 households on the waiting list for social housing. Rental affordability had also fallen by 10% between 2008 and 2018 with 27% of low-income households experiencing housing stress. With these alarming statistics, it was estimated that 42% of all forecast dwelling supply needed to be delivered as Affordable Housing to meet demand in 2036.
During the Strategy’s development process, Council’s role in supporting increased Affordable Housing stock across Greater Shepparton was explored. Traditionally, Council’s main role is to advocate for funding to build Social and Affordable Housing from the Australian and Victorian Governments. This will continue but the Strategy also recommended building partnerships within the community to coordinate efforts and maximise the resources across Greater Shepparton to achieve this. This could include negotiating with developers to build Affordable Housing, including Social Housing, in new residential estates, encouraging diversification in housing stock and alternative housing models, assisting tenancy support programs and, crucially, assessing Council-owned assets for suitability for temporary or permanent Affordable Housing options.
Council also subsequently resolved to form the Greater Shepparton Affordable Housing Reference Group to provide expert advice to Council on ways to realise Affordable Housing outcomes.
The Greater Shepparton Housing Strategy (GSHS) 2011 was developed to respond to existing and future housing needs in Greater Shepparton by the year 2031. The GSHS states that Council should support developments that contribute to a variety of housing types, especially semi-detached dwellings and apartments in urban centres.
The GSHS suggests that one way of addressing worsening housing affordability is by accommodating higher density living, such as apartment buildings, in appropriate locations where there is an identified demand.
The Shepparton CBD Strategy 2008 guides changes to future land use, built form, access and public spaces in the Shepparton CBD. The Strategy encourages medium to high density developments in the CBD and, specifically, recommends that Council-owned car parks be considered for future redevelopment proposals.
The Shepparton and Mooroopna 2050: Regional City Growth Plan is focused on accommodating Shepparton and Mooroopna’s population up to 2050. The 2050 Growth Plan identifies several opportunities for revitalisation and renewal of key development sites across the Shepparton CBD, in particular. The 2050 Growth Plan considers that higher density housing within Shepparton’s CBD will contribute to economic prosperity and address worsening housing affordability issues.
The findings and recommendations of a majority of these documents have been included in the planning controls applying to the Shepparton CBD in the Greater Shepparton Planning Scheme. The Planning Scheme guides the development of land across Greater Shepparton.
Clause 16.01 of the Greater Shepparton Planning Scheme provides several objectives on urban consolidation and growth across the Shepparton CBD to accommodate a growing population and encourage diversity in dwelling types. The Planning Scheme strongly supports residential development in Shepparton’s CBD through the construction of higher density residential and mixed-use developments providing a variety of dwelling types.
The Rowe and High Streets Car Park is within the Activity Centre Zone (ACZ) at Clause 37.08 (Schedule 1) of the Planning Scheme, which seeks to accommodate a variety of uses associated with activity centres. Overall, the ACZ seeks to attract development and people to live and work in the CBD by providing a greater range of housing choices within close proximity of the Maude-Street Mall. This is expected to be achieved through higher-scale mixed-use developments, including residential, that will provide housing within the CBD, and increase activity and vibrancy of the CBD. The ACZ also encourages the redevelopment of vacant or underused land.
The Social Housing Site Options Assessment by SEMZ Property Advisory & Project Management is a high-level, independent assessment and evaluation of 16 sites identified (by Council through consultation) as being potentially suitable for the purpose of accommodating social housing.
A Report by Affordable Development Outcomes Pty Ltd to review and comment on the objectives and framework of Council’s Affordable Housing Strategy, provide an update on Affordable Housing demand in Greater Shepparton, and respond to key community concerns.
Hearing of verbal submissions
Greater Shepparton City Council heard five verbal submissions from residents and organisations on the proposal on Tuesday 23 May. You can view the recording of the submissions in the video player below.
Feedback received in submissions and additional work undertaken
Council officers received a total of 121 submissions on the possible sale, lease or gifting of land. In response to this. Council officers prepared a Conversation Report outlining the consultation process, the common themes identified in submissions received and Council officers’ responses to each of these themes. A link to the Conversation Report can be found below.
Council will now consider the outcome of the consultation process relating to the possible sale, lease or gifting of Council-owned land Housing at the High and Rowe Streets Car Park for Affordable Housing at the Ordinary Council Meeting to be held on Tuesday, 20 June 2023.
The community could make a submission by emailing it to email@example.com, completing it on online via the form below or posting it to Greater Shepparton City Council, Locked Bag 1000, Shepparton VIC 3632.