In June 2018, amendments to the Planning and Environment Act 1987 commenced operation to support and encourage the development of more affordable housing. The voluntary framework established under the Planning and Environment Act enables councils to work with land owners, developers and other partners to agree affordable housing provision as part of development projects, and to use Section 173 of the Act to confirm those agreements.

The Victorian government recognises that there are limited precedents for councils to draw upon in negotiating affordable housing agreements, and that it is appropriate to provide some transitional support to councils to build their capability to successfully negotiate such agreements. This program for affordable housing agreements has been developed to provide specialist expert and technical assistance and support to council officers working to negotiate Section 173 agreements for affordable housing.

A total of $500,000 is available during the 2018/19 financial year to support councils’ advance negotiations. It is anticipated that a maximum of $50,000 support will be provided to successful applicants.

Download the Grants Program Guidelines

Frequently Asked Questions

A total of $500,000 is available during the 2018/19 financial year to support councils’ advance negotiations. It is anticipated that a maximum of $50,000 support will be provided to successful applicants.

Applicants that make a co contribution, including in-kind (but excluding staff overheads) will be prioritised.

Victorian councils.

Individuals are not eligible to apply.

In September 2018 Councils were invited to submit expressions of interest for the Voluntary Affordable Housing Agreements grants program. The projects should demonstrate a need for strategic assistance in a development negotiation aimed at delivering an affordable housing outcome.

Grant funding may be used to purchase professional advisory services required to progress the project. Examples of the types of professional advisory services that may be relevant are: community and stakeholder consultation; analysis of affordable housing needs data; support to the process of negotiating a voluntary affordable housing agreement; support to Council staff in understanding the viability of including affordable housing under different development approval scenarios.

Grant funding may also be used for other purposes to facilitate a successful outcome for the project.

These grants are intended to supplement work by Councils (and partners) towards voluntary affordable housing agreements). To be eligible for funding, project proposals must involve a cash or in-kind contribution from the applicant Council which represents at least 50 per cent of the total project cost.

Applications are invited for projects which meet one or both of the following:

  1. Developing a voluntary affordable housing agreement for a development specific site or collection of sites.
  2. Developing policy infrastructure (eg. a Council affordable housing policy, or a planning scheme amendment) and other resources that will assist the successful negotiation of voluntary affordable housing agreements in the short- to medium-term.

To apply for assistance please to complete the online application.

The following activities would generally not be considered:

  • requests for retrospective funding, where projects have commenced (i.e. equipment purchased, contracts entered into or construction has begun) or have been completed prior to receiving funding approval
  • projects requiring ongoing funding from the Victorian Government
  • ongoing operating costs or salary subsidies except where a salary subsidy provides administrative and project management support for groups of local government authorities and project partners
  • projects which describe activities which would be considered to be core business such as council housing strategies
    private sector projects undertaken as a result of a Victorian Government contract
  • projects where funding is normally provided by other state, commonwealth and/or local government sources
    feasibility studies including existing or ongoing consultancy arrangements
  • any costs to meet regulatory requirements
  • the purchase of land.

Homes for Victorians: Affordability, access and choice (March 2017) and Plan Melbourne 2017-2050 (March 2017) recognised the critical need to increase the supply of affordable housing. Both strategies found that while the planning system alone could not address all of the issues related to the provision of social and affordable housing it is important for the planning system to play its role.

In 2018 the Government introduced amendments to the Planning and Environment Act, 1987 to facilitate the provision of affordable housing. To support the amendments the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) has released web-based guidance including an example Affordable Housing Agreement, guidance on the negotiation of agreements for different parties and guidance on the context for their application.

The amendments made three changes to the Act. Those changes were:

  • Adding a new objective to the Act “to facilitate the provision of affordable housing in Victoria”.
  • Introducing a definition of affordable housing – “For the purposes of this Act, affordable housing is housing, including social housing, that is appropriate for the housing needs of any of the following:
    • (c) moderate income households
    • (a) very low income households
    • (b) low income households."
  • Affirming the use of Section 173 for voluntary affordable housing agreements.

The reforms have been designed to facilitate voluntary agreements for the provision of affordable housing. As this is a new framework we recognise that councils require assistance to deliver these voluntary agreements and support which might include:

  • understanding development economics and assessing affordable housing viability,
  • understanding affordable housing and social housing delivery models,
  • understanding local housing needs and demand,
  • negotiating successful affordable housing agreements under Section173 of the Planning and Environment Act, 1987.

For DELWP, this program will build a better understanding of how to support successful agreements and the reasons why negotiations fail to deliver an agreement. This intelligence, will be drawn from the evaluation component in the project acquittal will inform future policy and program development. It will also deliver valuable affordable housing agreement case studies for the communications program.

DELWP has allocated $500,000 fund projects which meet the objectives. A maximum of $50,000 will be provided for each successful application.

Expressions of interest are  open until 5pm, Monday 22 October 2018.  All grants must be acquitted by 30 June 2019.

Guidance material on negotiating voluntary affordable housing agreements under the Act and links to the Order by Governor in Council, the Ministerial Notice and the Example Affordable Housing Agreement is available from the Affordable housing agreements website.

More information

If you have any questions or require further information, email plan.affordablehousing@delwp.vic.gov.au

Page last updated: 20/09/19