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Nightmare on your street - Planning & Democratic Catastrophe for Melbourne as VC 68 passes parliament

Libs give in to Madden

This morning Planning Minister Madden’s revised Planning Amendment, now re-badged VC 68, was fast tracked through Parliament with the support of the coalition - Liberals and Nationals – who had, over the past year, held out against inducements to approve this toxic planning amendment. (Only the Greens and DLP MP’s stood firm.) This represents a catastrophe for Melbourne as it will see rezoning of land from rural to residential on the City’s fringe and so extend our notorious urban sprawl.

Protectors of Public Land: "The Community opposes these changes."

Brian Walters SC, President of Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc. comments:

"The community opposes these changes. Extension of the urban growth boundary will destroy green wedges, the lungs of Melbourne. This amendment will take 43,600 hectares out of the western, northern and Cranbourne South green wedges for housing development, freeways and freight terminals. The losses include: 5,000 hectares of environmentally significant Western Basalt Plains grasslands; the grassy woodlands of the Maribyrnong and Merri Creek catchments, with their magnificent red gums; and 4,000 hectares of the South East food-bowl, where highly productive market gardens using recycled water double as Southern Brown Bandicoot habitat. Our Green Wedges have been sacrosanct for generations. There was no mandate from the people to dispose of this legacy.”

Julianne Bell: Great increase in car dependency - city in permanent gridlock

Julianne Bell Secretary of PPL VIC: points out :

“It is also forecast that extension of the urban growth boundary will result in the creation of numbers of “dormitory” settlements without advance provision of infrastructure and services. It will greatly increase car dependency with people needing several cars per family and so worsen Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions. (This is ironic given the Brumby Government's recent announcement of work to control carbon emissions by the part closure of Hazelwood power station.) Monash University Centre of Population and Social Research forecast that from 1.97 million cars registered in Melbourne in 2006 there will be over 3 million by 2036. Our city will then be in permanent traffic gridlock.”

(See also "Why Gillard's car fuel-efficiency 'reforms' make no ecological or social sense" of 30 July 2010.)

Madden planning more nightmares to come

Community groups are now waiting for another bombshell from Planning Minister Madden – he is reported to be attempting to put through another planning amendment which will approve high rise (22 stories plus) along tram, bus and light rail routes as a means of accommodating the expected 1.5 million more people in Melbourne by 2036. This will result in further congestion of the major transport routes and condemn the population of flat dwellers to ill health. (Anyone who lives within 500 metres of a main road is threatened by developing asthma and cardiac-respiratory diseases.) The Brumby Government is fast turning Melbourne into one of the great unliveable cities of the world.

Inquiries: Julianne Bell Mobile 0408 022 408 Brian Walters SC Mobile 0411 020 967

Source: Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc., Media Release 29 July 2010

Comments

This is another terrible defeat for those who care about our environment. The other part of the amendment which will no doubt rear its ugly head in the Victorian upper house of the state parliament very soon will tell the people of Melbourne- "you have no say in your city, its size, how it grows nor in your amenity. You will lose very fight to save what you have." These 2 amendments -as they have become, (born out of one) will keep developers happy for maybe a couple of decades, and then what? Another merry go round of amendments to accommodate endless growth . I can't see any outcome other than the eventual loss of all the Green Wedges and a very dense city in the established areas , now continually under part demolition and re-construction. The argument about population growth and development is such a contradiction on the pro growth side. This side says we should accept high growth because we have a small population and are just rolling in excess space. Well, if this were true, then there would be no backlash and a million or 2 million people from other countries could just move in ! Simple! But this of course is not the case. Population growth in Australia is causing intense pain. The mantra- "it just a matter of infrastructure" is also hollow. It is the infrastructure associated with population growth that causes the damage. A road here to "ease congestion", a dam there and desalination plant somewhere else- all cause grief. Am I being selfish? I don't think the wild life that is decimated to make way for more people would think so either.

It is time to accept that Melbourne has already grown past its optimum size. All three promulgated options to increase housing stock for a growing population threaten to harm both the quality of life and the resilience of our city. This is especially true with the added stressors of Peak Oil and Climate Change.
1) Expansion of the urban growth boundary increases our car dependence. It also destroys valuable farm land and market gardens on the city fringe, thus increasing the monetary and environmental costs of food.
2) In-fill of green-wedges destroys the "lungs" of our city, worsens the urban heat-island effect and worsens flooding from storm-water run-off. Large, open, vegetated spaces are necessary for both mental and physical health.
3) Densification along public transport routes has some merit but there should be a height-limit of five storeys, not the 22 floors plus promoted by the government. Outside of the CBD all buildings should be on a human scale. People should readily be able to climb to the top floor by stairs. Any footprint that these buildings cover should be compensated by extensive roof gardens.