Can Australian governments steer ‘just intensification’? Evaluating Victorian affordable housing policy
Over the past two decades, Australian planning policies have supported largely unregulated land speculation and gentrification in relatively well served inner and middle suburbs, leading to displacement of low and moderate income households and growing spatial inequalities. The current Victorian state government signalled a new direction by ‘refreshing’ the third metropolitan strategy in as many decades, Plan Melbourne (2014/2017), with an increased emphasis on ‘diverse housing close to jobs, transport and services. It also established a new independent infrastructure advisory body that defined social housing as an infrastructure priority, and developed a ‘whole of government’ affordable housing strategy. Through a content analysis of Plan Melbourne, along with the two associated recent strategies, this paper asks whether they provide sufficient regulatory, governance and finance mechanisms to address and potentially reverse the trend towards greater social polarisation. We conclude that absence of a coherent vision, strong evidence base, coordinated partnership mechanisms, and ambitious targets combine to make progress towards more just intensification unlikely.