Plan Melbourne Blueprint:

VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT RELEASES PLAN MELBOURNE BLUEPRINT

On Wednesday 9th October, Premier Denis Napthine and Planning Minister Matthew Guy launched the much anticipated planning and transport blueprintPlan Melbourne. According to the press release, the blueprint will shape how Melbournians live and work over the next 40 years.

This follows on from theMelbourne-Let's Talkdiscussion document, released late 2012, and on whichFriends of Banyule(FOB) attended briefings and made a submission. Key features of the new document, which replacesMelbourne 2030, include:

 

-          A permanent urban growth boundary, intended to curb urban sprawl and redistributes population growth in new major population and employment towns across the state. These include places such as Ballan, Broadford, Kilmore, Warrigal, Drouin and Wonthaggi

-          Approximately half of Melbourne residential zones to be designated neighbourhood zones, where high rise development would not be permitted

-          Development of major new urban renewal centres. These include places such as Fisherman's Bend, E. Gate, Arden and Macaulay

-          The establishment of a Metropolitan Planning Authority, which will oversee the implementation of various initiatives ofPlan Melbourne, as well as structure plans and precincts

-          Investigating a third Melbourne airport in the southeast, to better serve Gippsland and the southeast region

Notwithstanding the above aims, planning academic Michael Buxton - Professor of Planning at RMIT University - commented that the document fails to deliver on major issues facing a rapidly growing Melbourne. These include things like a lack of allocated spending on public transport infrastructure, to better deal with outer urban growth corridors. He also notes urban growth boundaries have already been expanded by 43,000 hectares.

In a wide ranging article in The Age(Thursday 10th October) Professor Buxton identified the most serious failure being that the document "… does not redirect transport spending from roads to public transport and link this land to use…" Whilst the document mentionedMelbourne Metro and rail lines, it was essentially a roads document. Primacy is still given to the central city, as well as designated activity centres. This will have a detrimental effect on surrounding communities, including allowingas of right development, with no appeal rights.

In our submission last year, FOB identified these and other concerns, including new Planning Zones, which would encourage development of large-scale ("big box") shopping centres; and in turn increase car dependency. Development in green wedges and on agricultural land is also an issue, as is protection of heritage. Whilst some protection of neighbourhoods is provided for in certain identified residential areas (Neighbourhood Zones), none is provided in others.

A key concern we have - also raised in the article - is that, despite many worthy statements of intent in the document, planning under the blueprint will largely be determined by the development industry and property interests, rather than by residents. It remains to be seen how implementation will occur under the new planning authority, and how, as Melbourne continues to expand without sufficient infrastructure spending; especially on public transport, e.g. in new outer urban areas, how successful the blueprint might be.

It is difficult to determine whether this latest document is an improvement on the more recentMelbourne 2030plan. When one considers the more publicly focussed Metropolitan planning scheme and the green wedges approach of the Hamer government in earlier years, it is hard to be inspired with much confidence in the latest offering.

We will provide further updates as the new planning arrangements under the blueprint unfold.

DPCD are holding information sessions over the next month or so. Further submissions can be lodged up until Friday 6th December - Refer Dept. of Planning & Community Development web site - planmelbourne@ dpcd.vic.gov.au

Dennis O'Connell

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