Greenfield summary 2021
Residential Greenfield land is former rural land in Melbourne’s growth areas that is being developed for housing, typically detached houses. Melbourne’s seven growth areas are located in the municipalities of Cardinia, Casey, Hume, Melton, Mitchell, Whittlesea and Wyndham.
The Urban Development Program (UDP) identifies a pipeline of land as it is transformed from paddocks (englobo land) to lots for houses (lots released with a title).
- There was a total greenfield land supply of 370,421 lots at the end of 2021. Based on lot approval activity, this equates to between 18 and 23 years of land supply available in Melbourne’s growth areas.
- At the end of 2021 there was enough englobo land (large pieces of land that have been identified for future subdivision) to develop an estimated 320,096 retail lots (lots for dwellings to be built on).
- Englobo land already zoned for residential use is estimated to supply 198,069 lots.
- Unzoned englobo land is estimated to supply 122,027 lots. This land requires a Precinct Structure Plan (PSP) before it can be subdivided into retail lots.
- At the end of 2021 there was a record 50,325 proposed greenfield lots in Melbourne’s growth areas. Proposed lots are in the process of being subdivided.
- There were 17,198 greenfield lots released with a title across the growth areas in 2021. This is significantly less than the 22,740 lots released in 2020. Once a lot is released with a title a house can be built on it.
The greenfield pipeline
At the end of the calendar year 2021, there was enough englobo land, both unzoned and zoned, to develop an estimated 320,096 retail lots (lots for dwellings to be built on) across Melbourne’s growth areas. Englobo supply acts as a pool for future retail lots. The amount of englobo land decreases as retail lots are developed.
Total englobo supply
Unzoned englobo land
There are 122,027 unzoned englobo lots across metropolitan Melbourne’s growth areas. Unzoned englobo land requires a Precinct Structure Plan (PSP) before the land can be subdivided. The development of PSPs can be led by councils or the Victorian Planning Authority.
Zoned englobo land
The Western growth areas (Wyndham and Melton) have the greatest level of zoned englobo supply with an estimated 79,366 lots.
The planning status of the PSPs can be viewed on Greenfields - VPA.
Zoned and unzoned englobo land supply
Retail lot supply
Retail lots refer to land that has been subdivided from the large englobo greenfield land parcels into land that is available for individual users to build dwellings on. There are two stages that the Urban Development Program (UDP) tracks: Proposed lots and Lots with a title.
In December 2021, there were 50,325 proposed lots in the growth areas. New lots are being added to the stock of proposed lots while others are removed as they are provided with a title or are removed as they lapse. The growth areas in Wyndham and Melton had the largest number of proposed lots across metropolitan Melbourne making up 48% of the total.
Proposed lots by Growth Area
Lots with a title
There were 17,198 lots released with a title in 2021 across metropolitan Melbourne’s growth areas. This is significantly less than the 22,740 lots approved in 2020. This decrease is related to the level of lot sales in 2019 and 2020 when sales were lower than the previous years. Given the record number of lots sold in 2021, with 33,689 lots, and the time required to subdivide the land, there is likely to be an increase in the lots released with a title in 2022 and into 2023. For more information about the relationship between lot sales and lots released with a title please refer to the Policy page.
In 2021 all growth areas, except Casey, experienced a decrease in the number of lots approved. The Melton growth area had the largest number of approved lots in 2021 with 5,788. On a subregional basis, the largest proportion of these growth area approved lots were in the western region and made up 51% of lots released with a title in 2021.
Lots approved by Growth Area
Lot breakdown by Growth Area, Status, and PSP
Size of greenfield lots
The last decade has seen a gradual and significant change in growth area lot sizes. Currently 89% of 2021 lots with a title in the growth areas have an area of less than 500 m2. This is a significant change when compared with the 2006-07 period when only a third of lots were below 500 m2. Furthermore, lots less than 300 m2 make up nearly 35% of new lots. Over the last decade the number of larger lots (more than 500 m2) has declined significantly.
The trend to smaller lots will continue with 90% of proposed lots having an area of less than 500 m2.The area of proposed lots provides insight into the size of future lots. Lots with an area greater than 650 m2 are a minority of those planned, making up 3% of currently proposed lots, compared to making up 20% of lots released with a title in 2007-08.
The decrease in the size of residential lots is leading to a denser urban form in Melbourne’s growth areas. This information about lot sizes feeds into the UDP’s estimate of future capacity of englobo land and the years of supply. This results in an increase in the capacity of the growth areas to accommodate residential development in the future.
Proportion of lot size category per year
Land supply and take up – years of supply remaining
The Planning Policy Framework identifies the need to “Plan to accommodate projected population growth over at least a 15 year period and provide clear direction on locations where growth should occur.” Greenfield supply is one element of the land required to provide dwellings to service population growth. Supply is also provided through development on major redevelopment sites (10 or more dwelling which are monitored by the Urban Development Program – Redevelopment) and infill development.
The table below provides an estimate of the years remaining of greenfield land supply in the growth areas. These estimates are based on the average rate of lots released over the long-term time period (between 2007-08 and 2021) and a short-term time period (2019 to 2021).
Using the long-term average, there is an estimated 23 years of land supply remaining in the growth areas. Using the short-term average, this is reduced to 18 years.
Supply and take-up are not evenly distributed across the growth areas with more mature areas, such as Casey-Cardinia, having limited supply and higher rates of approved lots compared to newly developing areas like Hume-Mitchell and Melton, where there are higher levels of supply and lower levels of lots approved.
Take-up scenario and estimated supply
Total supply (englobo and proposed)
Long-term average annual number of lots with a title 2007-08 to 2021
Long-term estimated years of supply
Short-term average annual number of lots with a title 2019 to 2021
Short-term estimated years of supply
These estimates will change over time as the:
- increased density of development extends the amount of supply remaining.
- rate of development in the growth areas varies.
Strategic land supply policy
Fifteen years of land supply
Clause 11.02-1S of the State Planning Policy Framework of the planning scheme identifies the need to “Plan to accommodate projected population growth over at least a 15-year period and provide clear direction on locations where growth should occur.” Greenfield supply is one element of the land required to provide dwellings to service population growth. Supply is also provided through development on major redevelopment sites (which are monitored by the Urban Development Program – Redevelopment) and infill development.
Using the long-term average of lot approvals, there is an estimated 23 years of land supply remaining in the growth areas. Using the short-term average of lot approvals, this is reduced to 18 years.
Plan Melbourne 70:30 aspiration
Policy 2.1.2 of Plan Melbourne sets an aspirational scenario where 70% of net additional dwellings are located within established Melbourne and 30% in the growth areas. The 70:30 aspirational scenario is designed around a sustained change over a long time period. It is anticipated the share of new dwellings being built in the growth areas will decrease over time as greenfield land is consumed and development increases in the established parts of Melbourne.
Historically, the share of net additional dwellings in the established areas of Melbourne has approached 70%. Since 2016, the share of dwelling approvals occurring in the established parts of Melbourne have declined from 64% to 44% in 2021. This decline in the share of net dwelling approvals can be attributed to continued strong greenfield development. Demand for greenfield housing remained strong driven by federal and state stimulus initiatives such as Homebuilder to maintain construction and development activity during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, that enabled development to be brought forward.
Share of net additional dwellings, established Melbourne and growth areas, 2014 to 2021
Population growth prospects
Population growth is a key factor in the development of new housing. Before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Victoria was the fastest growing state in Australia, reflecting its attractiveness as a place to live, work and study.
The population grew at an average of more than 2.0 per cent per annum for most of the previous decade. Victoria’s population decreased during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic period. This was the first decrease in many years.
Victoria’s population peaked at almost 6.694 million people in June 2020. Growth was below 100,000 for the year, compared with an average growth of 140,00 for the five previous years. During the year 2020-21 Victoria’s population decreased by 44,700 people to finish at 6.649 million in June 2021.
There is considerable uncertainty around the post-COVID future. It is unknown when Victoria will re-open for a return to ‘normal’ levels of overseas migration. There is a common assumption driving some published projections. It is assumed migration will return over two-to-three years. Recent projections produced by the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments contain similar assumptions and short-term results.
The 2022-23 State Budget projections show Victoria’s population growing by 0.1 per cent in 2021-22 before growth increases to 1.1 per cent in 2022-23 and 1.6 per cent over the following year as borders reopen.
The Commonwealth Budget projects that Victoria's population is projected to increase by 0.5 per cent in 2021-2022 before growth increases to 1.4 per cent in 2022-2023 and 1.8 per cent over the following year.
Current housing activity
Despite the disruption to population growth, residential development activity in Victoria remains strong.
In the 12 months to January 2022, there were about 70,000 new homes approved for construction across Victoria. About 47,000 of these approvals were for detached houses, one of the highest number of approvals ever recorded over a 12-month period.
There were also nearly 13,000 approvals for medium-density units and townhouses, and about 10,000 approvals for higher-density apartments. Most of these were located in the established parts of Melbourne.
Victoria currently leads Australia in residential building activity. During the same 12-month period New South Wales saw about 62,000 approvals and Queensland about 44,000 approvals. Much of the new housing across Victoria has been built in greenfield residential areas - both in Metropolitan Melbourne and Regional Victoria.
This high demand for greenfield land has placed some pressure on the availability of lots for sale as land developers' inventory of readily developed lots has been exhausted.
From lot sales to lots with a title
Lot sales or “sales off the plan” are a way for buyers to secure a piece of land and for developers to guarantee a sale before outlaying significant expenditure to provide services required to subdivide a block. This is an indicator the development industry often cite as a signal of market activity. This information is sourced from non-government providers such as Research4.
Once the lots have been sold, the developer starts the process of subdividing the land. This entails the legal subdivision process as well the installation of services such as water, electricity, drainage and roads. When the local council has been satisfied all servicing and legal requirements have been met, a title for the land is issued and the land is ready for a house to be built on it. Lots with a title is the final stage of the subdivision process. This is the last stage measured by UDP.
The chart shows how lot sales, and lots released with a title track relatively closely together. An upturn in the sale of lots leads to an upturn in lots with a title as developers deliver the lots that were sold 12 to 18 months previously. Lot sales are a leading indicator of subdivisional activity.
In 2021 there were a record 33,689 lots sold. However, the previous 2 years saw low levels of sales, particularly 2019 when there were 8,213 lots sold. Due to the lower than previous of sales in 2018, 2019 and 2020, the number of lots with a title has trended down in 2021 to 17,198.
It is anticipated the record lot sales in 2021 will take longer than usual to deliver as subdivided lots. As stated in the State of the Land 2022 report "Settlement timelines for product sold in 2021 were well beyond 12 months" (page 49). Given the record number of lots sold in 2021 and the time required to subdivide the land, there is likely to be an increase in the lots released with a title in 2022 and into 2023.
Greenfield lot sales and lots with a title, metropolitan Melbourne growth areas, 2009 to 2021
The two stages in the englobo greenfield supply category are:
1. Unzoned englobo land requiring a Precinct Structure Plan
2. Zoned englobo land
The two stages in the retail lot supply category are:
1. Proposed lots
2. Lots with a title
Urban Development Program (UDP) has identified a pipeline of steps as land progresses from paddocks to lots for dwellings. Temporarily, the pipeline stages are: unzoned englobo land, zoned englobo land, proposed lots and lots with a title.
Large pieces of land that have been identified for future subdivision into lots for dwellings. In the Urban Development Program pipeline this type of land is divided into two stages: unzoned englobo land and zoned englobo land.
Former rural land in Melbourne’s growth areas that is being developed for housing, typically detached houses.
Melbourne’s growth areas are located in the municipalities of
- Whittlesea; and
Lots with a title
This is land that has been registered, provided with a title and ready for dwellings to be built. Lots released with a title is the last step in the subdivision process. The data is sourced from Vicmap.
Precinct Structure Plan (PSP)
A land-use and infrastructure plan to guide development of the area over time. It sets out the intended future land uses, infrastructure and development guidelines.
This is land that has been included as “proposed” within the Vicmap Property dataset. Some changes to these lots may occur before they receive a title. The data is sourced from Vicmap.
Lots that have been subdivided from englobo land into lots for dwellings to be built. Pieces of land. In the Urban Development Program pipeline this type of land is divided into two stages: proposed lots and lots with a title.
Unzoned englobo land requiring a Precinct Structure Plan
This is englobo land that has been identified for future residential development through the Growth Corridor Plans, logical inclusions process and other strategic processes. Typically, it is currently zoned Urban Growth Zone. It provides an estimate of the potential retail lot yield within a precinct.
Zoned englobo land
This is englobo land that has undergone the Precinct Structure Plan (PSP) process. It is zoned and available for subdivision into smaller retail lots (in accordance with its structure plan).
If you have difficulty accessing the content above or would like more information about the Urban Development Program, please email Policy and Performance.
Page last updated: 26/07/22