Monthly Archives: June 2010

Melbourne Airport turns 40

Melbourne Airport, Tullamarine

Melbourne Airport, Tullamarine [Source: The Collector’s Marvellous Melbourne]

Melbourne Airport, also known as Tullamarine Airport, turns 40 next Thursday. Rather than celebrating the occasion, two recent news items have focused on the continuing lack of a direct rail link to the airport.

Train derailed by buck-passing and vested interests details the history of decision making associated with accessing the airport. This has resulted in the continual widening of the Tullamarine Freeway which services airport buses, taxis and private cars, and a long-term surface car park stretching over two kilometres.

Doyle plea for rail link to airport focuses on an interview with lord mayor Robert Doyle in which he argues for a ‘duplicate grid’ within Melbourne’s infrastructure. The Tullamarine Freeway is given as an example in which large volumes of traffic are reliant on a single infrastructure connection. The obvious problem highlighted by Mr Doyle is the massive impact on traffic flows when an accident occurs. Building a ‘duplicate grid’, in this case a rail link, would provide an alternative means of travel between the airport and city centre.

Social Housing Audit

Access to Social Housing Cover, June 2010

Access to Social Housing Report [Source: Victorian Auditor-General’s Office]

The Victorian Auditor-General’s report Access to Social Housing highlights a number of key problems, particularly the failure to adequately house people of the highest need. The background summary provides a bleak opening:

“Victoria has an undersupply of affordable housing for those on low incomes … many low-income Victorians find it difficult to access public housing as it is increasingly targeted to those on the waiting list classified as having special needs. Waiting times for other tenants are up to seven years”

The report makes a number of recommendations targeting the three key entities involved in the provision of affordable housing; the Director of Housing, the Department of Human Services and the Registrar of Housing Agencies.

While housing associations are on track to meet the original target of 1,550 properties, perhaps one of the more disturbing elements of the report is the lack of clear guidelines to deliver equity of access for applicants on the public housing waiting list. Originally there was a requirement for 50 per cent of new vacancies in housing association properties to be filled from the waiting list. This has been modified to ‘up to’ 50 per cent. During 2008-09 only 17 per cent of new vacancies were filled by DHS referrals from the top of the waiting list. This implies that the current social housing model places pressure on associations to select tenants with an adequate income, thereby achieving favourable rent revenue and ensuring financial viability.

Full report and Summary (PDF)

Improvements for Port Phillip beaches

Elwood beach in 2006

Elwood beach in 2006 [Source: The Age]

Elwood beach in 2010

Elwood beach in 2010 [Source: The Age]

The Age recently reported on the State Government’s announcement to invest $6 million in Victorian beaches including Portsea, Half Moon Bay and Elwood.

Environment Minister Gavin Jennings said erosion at Port Phillip beaches was due to natural patterns not dredging. “We see the tide as it shifts with seasons, the sand shifts with it. It’s almost like clockwork. In certain months the sand will move south; in the other part of the cycle it will move north,” he said.

$2.75 million will be invested in Elwood Beach to protect the foreshore from flooding and erosion by creating a storm-buffer. The project involves dumping 40,000 cubic metres of sand from East Gippsland quarries to widen the beach by 35 metres. The works will be effective for up to 25 years.

2010 Australia Award for Urban Design

2010 Australia Award for Urban Design

Geelong Youth Activity Precinct, winner of the 2010 Australia Award for Urban Design [Source: skateboard.com.au]

The Geelong Youth Activity Precinct by The City of Greater Geelong has won the 2010 Australia Award for Urban Design. The judges commented that the project “is responsive to the specific requirements of youth – often marginalised in our public and private spaces”.

The annual award was created by the Urban Design Taskforce and is hosted by the Planning Institute of Australia. Other winners included BVN Architecture and Queensland Department of Transport for ‘Inner Northern Busway’ and RTA Urban Design Section, NSW for ‘Beyond the Pavement RTA urban design policy, procedures and design principles’.

Regional Victoria targeted for future growth strategy

A new $631 million blueprint for regional growth has been unveiled by the Victorian Government. Ready for Tomorrow: A Blueprint for Regional and Rural Victoria provides strategic investment to encourage economic growth, attract jobs, increase population and allow major new investment. The blueprint sets out five key strategies and establishes a new process for Regional Strategic Planning. The new planning framework will allow regional communities greater control in identifying and planning their development.

Reporting on the new policy The Age identifies population pressure within Melbourne as one of the key factors behind the government’s investment in regional areas:

“The regional blueprint is designed to reduce the threats to Melbourne’s ‘liveability’ caused by the city’s population boom, and to limit the prospects of a revolt against Labor in marginal regional seats at November’s state election.

Labor strategists fear Victoria’s population growth of nearly 2000 a week is causing a political backlash in Melbourne as the city struggles with extra demand on trains, trams, buses, roads and hospitals.”

ACF Sustainable Cities Index

ACF Sustainable Cities Index - Melbourne

Summary of Melbourne’s results [Source: Australian Conservation Foundation – 2010 Sustainable Cities Index Comparative Table]

Darwin is the most sustainable city based on the Australian Conservation Foundation’s (ACF) 2010 Sustainable Cities Index. Through an independent review process the ACF established 15 indicators across three categories; environmental performance, quality of life and resilience. The resulting index provides a snapshot of comparative performance in each of Australia’s 20 largest cities.

Melbourne ranked seventh. Its best performance was in the density category with high scores also recorded in green building, health and education. Melbourne recorded low results in biodiversity, transport and public participation.

Melbourne City Fact Sheet
2010 Sustainable Cities Index Report

Melbourne’s Urban Growth Boundary Extended

Urban Growth Boundary 9 June 2010

Urban Growth Boundary PDF [Source: Department of Planning and Community Development]

Planning Minister Justin Madden recently announced the expansion of Melbourne’s Urban Growth Boundary with the release of an additional 24,500 hectares of land.

Melbourne @ 5 million is a detailed strategy to build an additional 600,000 new dwellings over the next 20 years – 284,000 of these will be in new communities like those created within an expanded UGB. Making 24,500 hectares available for housing double’s Melbourne’s land supply which will keep housing affordable and ensure that growth happens in a managed and sustainable way,” said Mr Madden.

Let’s take a further look at these figures in terms of housing density:

If we assume that all 284,000 dwellings targeted for new communities are built within the expanded UGB area only:

284,000 dwellings / 24,500 hectares = 12 dw/ha

If we increase the density to include all 600,000 new dwellings:

600,000 dwellings / 24,500 hectares = 25 dw/ha

It should be noted that there are different methods for measuring density. Our calculations assume that the dwellings ‘share’ their land area with associated infrastructure (public transport, streets, etc) and non-residential programme (community facilities, shops, etc). Therefore, the 12 dwellings in the first example may need to be built on 80% of the hectare if the additional 20% is required for other uses.


Doncaster 'snapshot' overlayed onto the MCG

Doncaster overlay [Source: Visual City from Google Map base]

Sunshine 'snapshot' overlayed onto the MCG

Sunshine overlay [Source: Visual City from Google Map base]

To compare these densities with existing suburban development the above diagrams overlay areas of Doncaster and Sunshine onto the 2 ha playing surface of the MCG. The density within these suburban ‘snapshots’ exceeds the 12 dw/ha from the first calculation.

While definitions of low, medium and high density housing vary, densities of 12-25 dw/ha would generally fall within low density targets. With Melbourne having one of the largest urban footprints in the world, will the latest UGB expansion and associated housing numbers provide a model for sustainable growth?

Victorian Architecture Awards Exhibition

Melbourne Recital Centre, ARM, 2009 Victorian Architecture Medal
[Source: Visual City]

Entries from the 2010 Victorian Architecture Awards will be exhibited at Guildford Lane Gallery from Wednesday 23 June until Saturday 17 July. A series of free floor talks will also take place:

6.00pm Tuesday 6 July – Public New, Public Alterations & Additions
6.00pm Wednesday 7 July – Residential New
6.00pm Thursday 8 July – Interior & Small
6.00pm Tuesday 13 July – Residential Alterations & Additions
6.00pm Wednesday 14 July – Residential Multiple, Heritage & Urban Design
6.00pm Thursday 15 July – Commercial & Sustainable

To register for the talks contact the Australian Institute of Architects.

HIA’s Population and Residential Building ‘Hotspots’

Victoria is the nation’s biggest building ‘hotspot’, according to a new report from the Housing Industry Association (HIA). The Population and Residential Building Hotspots report provides a snapshot of Australia’s fastest growing metropolitan and regional areas in the 2008/09 financial year.

A ‘hotspot’ is defined as a local area where population growth exceeds the national rate (2.1%) and the value of residential building work approved is in excess of $100 million. Victoria recorded 10 of the top 20 locations.

Whittlesea North had the highest figures with residential building approvals exceeding $484 million and population growth at 18.3%. This was followed by Wyndham South – one of Victoria’s fastest growing cities – with approvals reaching almost $284 million and population growth at 12.8%. The Southbank and Docklands were ranked 19th, recording $335 million of higher density residential approvals and 5.3% population growth.

Planning permission for AIA’s carbon neutral office

41 Exhibition Street by Lyons

41 Exhibition Street redevelopment [Source: Lyons]

City of Melbourne has granted planning approval for 41 Exhibition Street, home of the Victorian Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA). Designed by Lyons, the 21 storey building will contain a ground level of ‘micro’ retail, four levels housing the AIA and 16 levels of commercial offices.

Carey Lyon said that the design concept “references the importance of Melbourne’s laneways, and helps maintain the fine grain of the city’s built environment.”

“Too often small sites in the city get land-banked and eventually aggregated, resulting in large-scale developments and a loss of the fine grain elements that can help define a city’s character. By creating a 20-storey building with a total space of only 5000 square metres on this small footprint site, we are adding variety and interest into the urban streetscape.”

Aiming for a 5 Star Green Star (Office v3) rating, the building will feature a high performance façade system and active chilled beams throughout – achieving a 40% energy saving when measured against ‘business as usual’. It will also incorporate storage of storm water for flushing of toilets, bicycle parking, and areas for tenants waste management.

According to a total carbon assessment run by the AIA, it is projected that the building will achieve a 43 per cent carbon reduction through energy efficiency, waste management, transport strategies and use of sustainable materials; 60 per cent carbon saving by the purchase of appropriate green power; and 100 per cent carbon neutrality by using carbon offsets through owners and tenancy agreements.

Ashwood Chadstone Gateway Project underway

Ashwood Chadstone Gateway Project - information board

One of the information boards on display at PPHA’s local office at the Jordanville Community Centre [Source: Port Phillip Housing Association]

Work has started on the Ashwood Chadstone Gateway Project which will deliver a mix of 210 affordable rental homes and 72 private homes. The development will utilise six vacant sites in the Ashwood Chadstone area. The project is a joint partnership between the State Government and the Port Phillip Housing Association. Both parties are investing $70m each towards the total $140m development. Architects FMSA have incorporated sustainable design features to address water and waste management, solar access and energy saving initiatives. The project is expected to be completed by late 2012.

Melbourne Bike Share

Melbourne Bike Share facilities

The new blue bikes and locking facility [Source: Melbourne Bike Share]

Roads Minister Tim Pallas has launched the Melbourne Bike Share program. 100 bicycles are available from ten stations located along the Swanston Street/St. Kilda Road corridor. Daily ($2.50), weekly ($8) or yearly ($50) subscriptions allow journeys of up to 30 minutes, with additional charges for longer trips.

Melbourne Bike Share stations

Location of the first 10 stations [Source: Melbourne Bike Share]

Over the coming weeks an additional 40 stations will be installed providing access to a total of 600 bicycles by the middle of this year. Further information is available at the Melbourne Bike Share website.