Victoria backs in building industry

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Approval fast tracking, a channel of long-term projects and financial incentives are set to be explored in Victoria after the government in that state announced a new taskforce targeted at keeping the industry going.

Set to be co-chaired by former Property Council (Vic) President and Lend Lease executive Roger Teale, Victorian Planning Authority chairperson Jude Munro and Victorian Public Service chief executive officer Stan Krpan, the taskforce will explore planning and investment prospects to boost the state’s building and development industry over the short, medium and longer term.

Set to run for three months, the Taskforce will:

Provide real-time guidance to government on issues which influence the industry

Work with industry and unions to assess existing major projects to guarantee that worker safety during building and infrastructure delivery

Supervise a fast-tracking of planning approvals, using ministerial powers, where decision have been delayed due to coronavirus impacts

Provide guidance on a pipeline of building and development projects over the longer term

Recommend on financial incentives and other current revenue measures – such as land tax, developer contributions, fees and rates – and make suggestions to help businesses to survive and fast-track investment.

The Taskforce will be given advice from three Industry Working Groups and be guided by a Steering Committee, involving representatives from industry peak bodies and unions.

The announcement comes as Planning Minister Richard Wynn has approved four new projects in inner Melbourne worth over $1.5 billion.

These include:

A two-tower development of 102 storeys and 59 storeys of commercial space at 118 City Road in Southbank – the higher tower of which will become Australia’s tallest building

A 34-storey mixed-use development at 555 Collins street

A 26-storey retail and office development at 52-60 Collins Street

A 300-apartment complex at 550 Epsom Road in Flemington.

The latest advancements came as the building industry has been hard-hit by COVID-19.

A national survey performed by the Master Builders Australia found that more than half of its members were struggling with delays on work as a result of the virus whilst 70 percent expected to absorb additional costs associated with project delays as a result of the virus.

“This taskforce will help ensure the building and development industry is a driving force for Victoria’s economy through this pandemic and beyond,” Wynn said.

“It will help deliver existing projects more efficiently and assist new projects to get off the ground faster.”

Building industry groups welcomed the move.

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