WELLINGTON Shire Council and all other Victoria local government areas (LGAs) have been provided a draft housing target by the state government, which identifies the number of homes to be built between now and 2051.

The draft housing targets represent an initial distribution of new homes across each LGA. The government says the number of existing homes in Wellington in 2023 was 24,100. Wellington’s draft target is 7600 homes to be built by 2051. This totals 31,700 homes.

Wellington Shire Council told the Gippsland Times they were confident they could meet the state government targets, and pointed to recent steps they’ve taken, such as the rezoning of two areas in North Sale, and one in Longford, for residential development.

Victorian Premier, Jacinta Allan, and the Minister for Planning, Sonya Kilkenny announced the draft targets for the LGAs on June 16, with final targets to be released by the end of this year. The government said Victoria has the largest annual population growth of all Australian states, and it needs more than two million additional homes by the 2050s.

“To give industry the confidence they need to get on and build, we need government and all councils working towards the same goal: more homes for Victorians – in the right places,” Ms Allan said.

Ms Kilkenny said: “We want to work in partnership with councils to build more homes in the areas where people want to live – close to the people they love and the things they love to do.”

The Opposition leader, John Pesutto, rubbished the announced targets.

“No one should take this seriously. The government has never met a target it has created,” he said.

In a media release, the state government said that more homes are needed in established suburbs – close to jobs, transport, education, and services – to give more young people the chance to live near where they grew up, and to reduce future growth pressure on families in Melbourne’s booming outer suburbs.

The draft council housing targets are largely based on access to the jobs, transport and services Victorians need. In regional cities and rural areas, the targets aim to help deliver more new homes in cities and towns to boost key jobs and affordable housing. Each draft target took into account jobs and services in the area; access to existing and future public transport; flood, bushfire and other environmental risks; and current development trends.

Victoria’s councils have the powers to unlock space for more homes by proposing changes to local planning rules.

“Wellington Shire Council is aware that the state government is currently preparing a long-term plan for Victoria and has recently released housing targets as part of this process,” Wellington Shire Mayor, Ian Bye said.

“Council remains confident that its current zoned township areas and areas identified for future rezoning and development, provide sufficient capacity to meet the housing target as set out by the state government.”

Cr Bye said it was critical that the state government develop a comprehensive and well-considered long term plan for all of Victoria, “which highlights the role that Regional Victoria can take in supporting growth and in turn, ease the pressure on Metropolitan Melbourne”.

“Council would like to see the state government introduce a range of reforms to the Victorian planning system to expedite the availability of housing land to market; including a simplified Planning Scheme Amendment process and the provision of a regional development infrastructure fund to help activate housing development,” Cr Bye said.

“Council continues to take proactive steps to meet future housing needs across the municipality. This includes recently approving three rezonings areas, two in North Sale and one in Longford and preparation of the Wellington Shire Growth Management Strategy.”

In July last year, when council announced the land release, they had identified North Sale and Longford as “key growth areas” because of their proximity to key infrastructure including community facilities, open spaces, sport and recreation facilities, jobs, and schools.

The state government said it would consult closely with councils to harness their local knowledge, with councils to report back on the draft target and the local changes they propose. The targets were outlined in the Housing Statement and form part of a long-term vision for Victoria’s next 30 years.

In the short-term, the state government faces rising material costs, labour shortages and builders going out of business, leading to delays in construction and fewer homes being built.