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The Future of Planning for Melbourne?

Victorian Planning Minister Matthew Guy is setting up a website http://www.planmelbourne.vic.gov.au asking for residents' feedback on the sort of Melbourne we want in the future. These kinds of websites, however, make it hard to say what you really think. It is probably better to send the Minister a submission re Plan Melbourne saying what you really think, in your own words, rather than responding to the website questionnaire. Email it to Matthew.Guy[AT]parliament.vic.gov.au . As a guide, we suggest that any plan must first have a policy to limit the population growth. To ignore this issue and try to plan for greater growth, would be self defeating.

Alert from BRAG

The Department of Planning has been working on a new metropolitan planning strategy and regional growth. A press release today from the Minister of Planning says, “We need to build on the best of past planning strategies and bring fresh thinking to our consideration of projected growth and change and how we address the challenges in front of us”.

But Brag's Vice President, Mary Drost, has responded saying,

“Population has grown too fast and infrastructure hasn’t been able to keep up.”

She is quite right. Melbourne is the fastest growing city in Australia, we grew by about 605,000 from 2001 to 2010 compared with only 450,000 in Sydney and that trend continues. And we are under pressure with overcrowded transport, gridlock on our freeways, overloaded sewerage and drainage, water shortages, power blackouts, problems with schools, hospitals etc.

The current planning strategy is to retrofit development into existing areas using existing capacity in schools, hospitals roads, rail,
trams etc. but any capacity is now well and truly filled. For instance our trains and trams are already seriously overcrowded.

BRAG's view is that any proposed development should identify local infrastructure capacities, show the effect of the project and how the developer will tackle the problems that will arise. If the developer does not come up with a satisfactory solution then the application should automatically fail. It should not fall back on Councils or the residents to rectify such problems.

Outer suburban developers have long been required to fund local infrastructure requirements. Why not in the inner suburbs?

BRAG contends that a bigger Melbourne is not a better Melbourne. We are trying to cope with densification in inner Melbourne as well as the urban sprawl and neither option is the answer. The Federal budget is unlikely to provide finance for the necessary infrastructure upgrades. Of course we have the elephant in the room – massive population growth, which both federal and state governments ignore.

So what is the answer?

We are constantly told that we need to go up to cope with population growth . Commentators like Bernard Salt from KPMG and the
Committee for Melbourne believe Melbourne needs New York style development and have promoted “Manhattanising” Melbourne,
which appeals to the development and construction industry but would be a disaster for residents.

Boroondara is a great place to live and, as a consequence, is under pressure from the developers because it offers them the best
economic returns. Our Council is doing its best to manage the tensions between accommodating growth and offering housing diversity while maintaining liveability. However the pressure from developers will continually increase making council’s task ever more difficult.

More and more residents from all over Boroondara are asking BRAG for help in combating opportunistic development in their area.
Under the previous state government there was a real decline in local democracy and local say in planning issues which accompany urban consolidation. When we object, we are branded NIMBY’s But its OK to say “not in my backyard”. We do have rights concerning the neighbourhood we live in despite what the growth lobby says.

Now we have an opportunity to exercise those rights. Planning Minister Guy has announced he is setting up a website http://www.planmelbourne.vic.gov.au which offers residents the opportunity to have input to the sort of Melbourne we want in the future.

We urge you to carefully consider the issues then go on to the website and tell the government what you think. Encourage your neighbours to do the same. If we don’t then the government will think we don’t care.

However, be careful about following the lead set by the questions. Like many such government surveys, they seem to be set up to gain predetermined answers.

BRAG believes it is better to send the Minister a submission re Plan Melbourne in your own words that say what you really think. Email it to Matthew.Guy[AT]parliament.vic.gov.au

As a guide, we suggest that any plan must first have a policy to limit the population growth. To ignore this issue and try to plan for
greater growth, would be self defeating but you make up your own mind and tell the government accordingly.

Jack Roach
BRAG(Boroondara Residents Action Group)

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Comments

Subject was: Can't add comments

I registered for the new planning feedback website, and logged in, but can't work out how to actually add to the forum. Has anybody else been successful? There are a few comments already there, some mentioning population.