Responsible Authority

Key Messages:
  • Early planning may be needed to determine the level of need for affordable housing in a municipality.

  • Once planning and the assessment of need for affordable housing is completed, there are a range of issues that a Responsible Authority should consider determining whether a request should be made to a landowner to voluntarily include affordable housing in a development.

  • Should a decision be made by a Responsible Authority to seek a voluntary agreement and the landowner is amenable to this discussion, the Responsible Authority is advised to consider a range of issues in determining the type, amount and delivery mechanism that they may seek to be realised as a starting point for discussions with the landowner.

In order for a Responsible Authority and landowner to enter into meaningful discussion on the requirements of an agreement, some early planning is necessary to determine the level of need for affordable housing in a municipality.

Many Responsible Authorities will already have in place a Housing Strategy that identifies the relevant needs of households and dwelling types and these will provide useful tools in assessing housing need within a defined location.

Where a Strategy or Plan is not in place, other resources may provide useful information.

  • Any value created by the planning process or other mechanism or incentive the Responsible Authority may provide to support an affordable housing outcome.
  • Approach, definitions and other matters set out within this Guidance.
  • Suitability of the site location and built form proposition for affordable housing.
  • Site constraints, the priority and cost implications of any other contributions that are sought beyond those otherwise required under the relevant planning controls, and the planning circumstances including the planning application history and stage.
  • The landowner’s willingness to consider including an affordable housing component.

Frequently Asked Questions

A Responsible Authority must discharge its responsibilities fairly and reasonably. It should not withhold authorisation for a planning scheme amendment without evidence-based policy reasons for doing so.

Similarly, the Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning will need to see a strategic basis for any request for a planning scheme amendment that includes provisions in relation to affordable housing.

A Responsible Authority can seek to include a condition on a planning permit for the provision of affordable housing. As for any condition on a permit, the responsible authority should have evidence to support the requirements and must be able to defend the condition in VCAT if the applicant appeals the conditions.

Throughout the planning permit process, planning staff should have explored and, to the extent possible, gained agreement with the applicant, on what would or wouldn’t be included in an Affordable Housing Agreement secured by way of a planning permit condition for a section 173 agreement.

Depending on the arrangements, the requirement for the provision of affordable housing can significantly change the viability of a development. Any requirements should be identified early and clearly and worked through with the applicant.

To help facilitate an Affordable Housing Agreement, a responsible authority may consider concessions or incentives such as:

  • Floor area uplift.
  • A truncated planning timeframe.
  • Reduced developer contribution.
  • Reduction of other planning requirements e.g. carparking, public open space contribution, community infrastructure contribution.
  • Rate reduction or exemption for the Affordable Housing dwellings.
  • Other contributions by the responsible authority e.g. land or money.