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Deadline tomorrow (28-3-13): Advice for submissions to "Melbourne Let's talk about the future"

We urge you to write a submission to Planning Minister, Matthew Guy’s, “Melbourne, let’s talk about the future”. Submissions close: 28th March. Go to: http://www.planmelbourne.vic.gov.au/getinvolved/submissions Or email to: planmelbourne@dpcd.vic.gov.au. Inside this article there are suggestions about doing your own submission rather than using the government format submission.

Use the following points to inform your submission. Or consult the attached MPSM guidelines and/or resolution adopted by the protectors of Public Lands AGM.

Candobetter will publish your submissions since the Minister won't

Please copy your submission to: james.sinnamon[at]gmail.com and submission@gwc.org.au; so at least there is a record of it as Mr Guy is not publishing other subs. Let us know if you wish them to be publically available, unless you want them kept confidential in which case please say so.

The source of the rest of this article is Rosemary West, of the Green Wedges Coalition. Candobetter.net has made some minor presentation changes, notably in formatting.

Speaking about the new Melbourne metropolitan strategy process and discussion paper, the respected strategic planner Professor Michael Buxton said, “(Both) are deeply flawed”, (the process) “is neither properly participatory nor informative”, and, “nothing so inadequate has ever been seen in the history of Melbourne strategic planning”. The text of Professor Buxton's speech is at http://candobetter.net/?q=node/3205 and a video of his speech is available here: http://candobetter.net/?q=node/3204

So, how should we respond to the discussion paper: “….let’s talk about the future”?

Some GWC members are concerned the paper might be a PR exercise to persuade the public to support the decisions the Government is making to deregulate Victoria’s planning schemes and produce a strategy which will please developers and “the big end of town”.

This will result in a seriously unbalanced strategy leaving the community without an effective voice.

In your submission, instead of responding to the pre-set questions 1-10 in chapter 6, it would be more effective for the government to know your thoughts on the following:

1. The following contribute to Melbourne’s livability and/or sustainability. Which do you feel are under threat and which need better protection? - residential streets and suburbs; public open space, parks and gardens; green wedges; heritage; natural environment; recreation facilities; shopping centres.

2. Higher density development: Would you accept higher density around shopping centres and railway stations if it meant better protection for most of the above?

Do you support more diverse, affordable housing? How and where?

3. Over recent years Melbourne’s boundaries have been extended into green wedge areas. Should we have a clearly defined and permanent urban growth boundary (UGB) making it obvious where Melbourne stops and where the rural areas begin?

Should we keep the green wedges for non-urban uses (eg. environmental conservation, agriculture, recreation, and landscape values)

What about the urban zones proposed to be allowed (or freed from existing restrictions)in Green Wedges by the Government’s Planning Zones review? (eg: Backpackers Lodge, Boarding House, Conference Centre, Display Home, Exhibition Centre, Function Centre, Group Accommodation, Hostel, Medical Centre, Motel, Nurses’ Home, Reception Centre, Residential Aged Care Facility, Residential Building, Residential College, Residential Hotel, Restaurant and Service Station.)

4. The Ministerial Advisory Committee for the new strategy suggested we should, “move away from regulation as the primary means of achieving planning outcomes”. Do you want more or less regulation of developers?

5. What are your thoughts about decentralization, as a response to Melbourne’s rapidly increasing population? Is slower growth desirable?

6. What do you think about population: do we need limits?

7. Do we need a city where residents can live and work locally? Is it realistic and how would it be achieved?

8. Infrastructure. Should developers pay for it, or taxpayers? In the choice between an extended railway network or more freeways, what would be your priority and why?

9. How should we make a better Melbourne strategy work in the best interests of the community? Leave development decisions to local council; have a new central planning authority for Melbourne, or keep the Minister’s right to have the final say? Any other ideas?

10. Thinking about the next 30 to 40 years, what do you see as the most important Melbourne planning issue/s for you, your children and grandchildren?

Following the questions section, the electronic format allows you to upload your own submission document. or you can email it.

You may care to offer comments about any of the following Green Wedge specific matters:

On page 18 of the paper under “Tourism innovations” it is suggested that planning zone reforms are needed to support tourism uses in the region. Despite its recommendations, the report, “Unlocking Victorian Tourism” admits it could not verify that planning schemes inhibited tourism investment. (see Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission summary report, June 2011, p14) So why the need for “planning zone reforms”?

On pages 40, 42, 44, 58 and 60 there are some worrying inconsistencies about the future of our Urban Growth Boundary and our Green Wedge i.e.

-“It is expected that (“the city’s longstanding ‘green wedges’ policy”) will continue.”(p40)

-“Melbourne should consider strengthening its ‘green wedge planning approach with a ‘green belt’…” In many places, the UGB follows natural boundaries or physical barriers such as the Outer Metro Ring transport corridor in the south-west. These boundaries or barriers could be appropriate locations to ‘lock in’ the Urban Growth Boundary.” (p58

-“There is a need to move beyond a ‘protective’ or ‘defensive’ approach to managing natural resources and seek opportunities to increase their value for the city and enhance their natural role.” (p60)

“Current planning controls in rural areas around Melbourne unduly limit opportunities for tourism and other developments that ……would broaden the range of choices these areas offer.” (p60)

-“The Metropolitan Planning Strategy must move away from regulation as the primary means of achieving planning outcomes.” (p72)

There is much double-speak here. The discussion paper wants fewer protections and less regulation in our rural areas, to make room for developments and “opportunities”, yet they say they want to “strengthen green wedge planning”!

The UGB can be shifted to more “natural” boundaries – a “green belt” rather than a “green wedge.” With Minister Guy’s already announced intention to make the Rural Conservation Zone less protective to allow more developments, it’s easy to see the drift.

The combination of weakened rural zone controls, development opportunities in our green wedge, and a shifted Urban Growth Boundary adds up to cause for serious concern.

Please tell them we want our Green Wedges to stay within current boundaries and with current non-urban uses.

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