Category Archives: Planning

Increased planning interventions

The Age reports that Planning Minister Justin Madden has intervened in 44 per cent more planning matters compared with the previous year. Presenting an annual report in Parliament, Mr Madden outlined a total of 223 planning interventions. Economics, rather than planning outcomes, formed a central argument for the increased level of ministerial involvement.


Shaping Melbourne Volume 2

Melbourne Beyond 5 Million - Volume 2

Melbourne Beyond 5 Million, Volume 2, Density and Localised Economies
[Source: Committee for Melbourne]

Density and Localised Economies, the second in a series of four volumes that define the outcome of the Committee for Melbourne’s 2010 Shaping Melbourne Taskforce, has been released.

Volume One of this series explored the importance of appropriate governance and effective decision making for the cities future. This included a broadly articulated long-term vision for how Melbourne could best benefit from addressing issues of physical shape, population, development, growth and regional relations.

Volume Two explores the issue of density and discusses the value of both creating new localised economies and reinforcing those that already exist. The report begins by covering population projections, rates of growth and demographic changes. This is followed by a review of Melbourne’s density and an overview of issues associated with viability. The relationship between planning and the market is presented along with a number of growth options. After discussing the role of regional cities, the report concludes with a series of actions to deliver change.

One of the clear issues emerging from the document is the current ‘policy void’ in both existing planning documents:

“Melbourne @ 5 million aspires to accommodate an additional half a million people within the established areas of Melbourne. It places a priority over designated activity areas across the metropolitan area and locations close to existing transport routes. Unfortunately, though, it provides no solution about the scale of development that may be expected, the planning regime that will implement the policy, the role of local municipalities and how local communities will have a voice. The situation is only exacerbated when the state chooses to override planning norms in the name of expediting projects.”

And in an overarching approach for the city’s future development:

“There is also a lack of a strong policy framework as to the preferred physical shape and form of Melbourne. If this ‘policy void’ continues, it is possible that increases in density will happen indiscriminately, with no strategic policies to determine how increased density will link to the provision of transport and other infrastructure. While the State Government has undertaken significant assessments of the capacity of metropolitan Melbourne to accommodate a population of five million, there is currently no plan that demonstrates how aspirations of new and existing communities and densification will actually be converted to reality – let alone for a population significantly beyond five million.”

Victorian Transport Plan

Victorian Transport Plan - Inner West animation still

Inner West projects, animation still [Source: Department of Transport]

The State Government has released the inner city route of the Regional Rail Link and plans for five stations in the Melbourne Metro project. Forming part of the Victorian Transport Plan, the two projects total almost $9 billion and are expected to provide capacity for an extra 20,000 passengers every hour. The plan also includes the Westlink tunnel, which will provide an alternative to the West Gate Bridge and the Truck Action Plan, which aims to reduce the number of trucks using residential streets in Melbourne’s west.

Docklands planning control handed to City of Melbourne


Docklands [Source: Wikimedia]

The Age reports that the City of Melbourne will be handed planning control of all developed parts of the Docklands, while VicUrban, the government’s development agency, will continue to have planning authority for all areas yet to be developed.

Melbourne lord mayor Robert Doyle welcomed the transfer of planning control as an opportunity to help integrate the waterfront precinct with the rest of Melbourne and improve residential amenities including additional community facilities, a new library and facilitating retail growth.

However, there are a number of challenges in achieving these aims; establishing meaningful connectivity across Wurundjeri Way is difficult, while the public realm suffers from a lack of activation at ground level due to blank facades. Commenting on the Docklands, Kim Dovey, a professor of architecture and urban design at Melbourne University, said:

”[Docklands] was never conceived with public interest to the fore, it was an experiment in privatisation of urban planning and I think that the recognition that that has to be redressed is a good one.”

Kodak site development plan approved

Kodak site development plan

Kodak site development plan [Source: Department of Planning and Community Development]

In May 2009, Planning Minister Justin Madden exercised ‘call-in’ powers for the Kodak site in Coburg. This effectively shifted responsibility for approving and amending the development plan from Moreland City Council to the Planning Department. In March this year, The Age reported on Moreland City Council’s anger at the lack of communication and consultation undertaken by the Planning Minister during the ‘call-in’. Director of city development, Roger Collins, also criticised the plan for falling short of earlier proposals in the amount of affordable housing provision and use of environmentally sustainable design. Having recently approved the development plan for the Kodak site, the minister has returned planning control back to Moreland City Council.

Developers Urbex will take the 20.8Ha site forward with the approved development plan providing 380 new homes, a neighbourhood hub and new open spaces. Moreland City Council has a Kodak site redevelopment page while the development plan is available from the Department of Planning and Community Development.

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.”

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?

New State Government and City of Melbourne planning committee

Planning Minister Justin Madden has announced details of a new joint State Government and City of Melbourne committee that will assess developments larger than 25,000 square metres. The Central City Standing Advisory Committee will give the City of Melbourne greater involvement in major planning decisions in the CBD. Members of the committee are:

  • Mr David Buckingham (Chair);
  • Ms Chris Gallagher (Victorian Government);
  • Ms Gaye McKenzie (Victorian Government);
  • Mr Rodger Eade (Victorian Government Alternate Member);
  • Prof Rob Adams (City of Melbourne);
  • Cr Peter Clarke (City of Melbourne); and
  • Cr Jennifer Kanis (City of Melbourne alternate member).

The first applications to be assessed by the Committee will be 80 Collins Street and the former Naval and Military Club, 23-35 Little Collins Street.

Le-Louvre, 74 Collins Street

Le Louvre, 74 Collins Street [Source: National Trust]

In a related article, The Age reports on the emerging heritage debate over the future of the ‘Paris end’ of Collins Street.

Epping Central Funding

Epping Central

Epping Central – Principle Activity Centre boundary [Source: City of Whittlesea – Epping Central, Emerging Directions Paper, December 2008]

Minister for Planning Justin Madden recently announced grants for Whittlesea Council to assist in planning key projects for Epping Central. Initial projects include sustainable transport initiatives and a new community hub. The funding will also be used to develop the Epping Central Structure Plan. This will guide major changes to land use, built form and public spaces in support of local economic, social and environmental objectives. Under Melbourne 2030, Epping is identified as a Principal Activity Centre.

‘Mini-Melbourne’ for China?

Tianjin, China - Google Maps

Tianjin, China [Source: Google Maps]

The Age reports on a masterplan designed by Architektonic which is described as a ‘mini-Melbourne’ located next to an artificial lake outside Tianjin, a sister city to the Victorian capital. According to the article:

“The proposed development would house 20,000 people in an area covering 900,000 square metres – roughly half the size of the Melbourne CBD. Its centrepiece would be a Melbourne-style shopping and cafes hub based on Acland, Brunswick and Lygon streets.”

Architektonic’s Shanghai office was recently opened by Victorian Industry and Trade Minister Jacinta Allan.

Cranbourne East – Melbourne’s newest suburb

Cranbourne East - Google Maps

Cranbourne East [Source: Google Maps]

The Precinct Structure Plan (PSP) for Cranbourne East has received planning approval. A 589 hectare site is projected to accommodate 20,000 people over the next 15 years. The masterplan includes 6,600 housing lots, local town centres, schools, kindergartens, retirement villages and amenity spaces. Discussions between the Growth Areas Authority (GAA), Casey Council and developers have resulted in Cranbourne East being the first plan to use concurrent land rezoning and subdivision approval processes. The subsequent time savings in subdivision and alignment of these processes is set to become a template for future PSP developments.

Precinct Structure Plans are part of the State Government’s strategy to accommodate population growth and housing demand. They are usually designed to accommodate between 10,000 and 30,000 people. Preparation of the plans is overseen by the Growth Areas Authority.

A map showing the location of Precinct Structure Plans is available here.

‘Great Streets’ Blueprint

Swanston Street Stage 1

View along Swanston Street in front of the State Library [Source: City of Melbourne]

80 per cent of the public space in Melbourne’s Central Business District is comprised of streets. As the population of the city continues to grow the municipality will invest $23 million in street infrastructure under the ‘Great Streets’ Blueprint. Using the Swanston Street model, a comprehensive framework will be developed and applied to other major streets. Central to the plan will be amenity improvements including trees, street furniture, lighting, bike lanes along with a study of the retail mix. Initial work will focus on completing the first stage of Swanston Street, followed by Elizabeth Street and Flinders Lane. A consultation and design process will also be undertaken for a pedestrian precinct along Queen Street adjacent to the Queen Victoria Market.

City of Melbourne’s Draft Budget

Docklands Library

Docklands Library [Source: City of Melbourne]

The City of Melbourne’s draft budget for 2010–11 proposes an $84 million funding boost to the municipality’s infrastructure. Key elements of the draft budget include:

  • $7.2 million rescue package for Melbourne’s drought affected trees as part of the $26.4 million allocated for parks and gardens.
  • New community facilities for Southbank with $5 million allocated for the first phase redevelopment of the former JH Boyd Girls’ High School.
  • $3.1 million committed to undertake future strategic development of the Queen Victoria Market including a study to transform Queen Street into a pedestrian precinct.
  • $9.2 million to develop a blueprint for transforming Melbourne’s streets. This will focus on changing city streets from thoroughfares to civic spaces starting with Swanston Street, Queen Street, Elizabeth Street and Flinders Lane.
  • $2.5 million to commence Docklands’ first public library in partnership with VicUrban.
  • $3.4 million city safety package including an extension of the CCTV patrol vehicle program and increased night time arts and cultural events.
  • $2 million funding increase to enhance premier festivals and events.
  • $600,000 to fit-out the community hub located at the Drill Hall, North Melbourne.
  • $400,000 to complete the $5 million upgrade of Melbourne’s Tan Track, which encircles the Royal Botanic Gardens and King’s Domain and is used by 300,000 people annually.

State Government budget targets key planning policies

The recent $72.1 million State Government budget targets key planning policy documents including Melbourne @ 5 million, Melbourne 2030 and Planning for all of Melbourne. The budget allocates $10.4 million over four years for Central Activities Districts and Employment Corridors and a further $8.3 million over four years to accelerate development in Activity Centres and infill sites within Melbourne. Other initiatives funded in the 2010 State Budget include:

  • $5.9 million over four years to develop housing and employment data to plan for future development;
  • $2.6 million for programs and community grants to preserve Victoria’s Heritage;
  • $9.5 million over five years for urban renewal in Footscray, including planning support for a residential, office and commercial development within the 1.3ha McNab Ave site;
  • $22.8 million in the Transport Connections project to provide reliable transport links;
  • $3 million to extend the Living Libraries program;
  • $14 million over two years to revitalise suburban sports facilities; and
  • $4 million in grants for community infrastructure in growth areas.

New guidelines for Maribyrnong River

Maribyrnong River Valley Design Guidelines

Map indicating the seven sections of the Maribyrnong River, each with their own specific character. [Source: Department of Planning and Community Development – Maribyrnong River Valley Vision and Design Guidelines]

The Maribyrnong River Valley Design Guidelines are intended as an overarching framework to achieve planning consistency along the river valley. The main purpose of the guidelines is to protect open space and guide development along the river, as well as expand and link existing parkland, walking paths and cycling trails. The guidelines set out a vision for the river valley by defining seven different sections of the river, each with their own specific character:

  • Brimbank length: a natural river
  • teele Creek length: a secluded river
  • Maribyrnong length: a suburban river
  • Racecourse length: river flats
  • Footscray length: an urban river
  • Footscray Wharf length: an urban river
  • Port length: a working river

A range of priority actions for further work, from the Organ Pipes National Park through to the river mouth, are identified including capital works, planning scheme amendments, enlarging the open space corridor, further detailed planning and community engagement.

New plan for Southbank

Southbank - Google Maps

Southbank [Source: Google Maps]

The City of Melbourne’s Draft Southbank Structure Plan 2010 proposes “new zoning and development controls to improve street level amenity, initiatives to improve walking and cycling and the establishment of new community centres to enhance the precinct’s look and feel”. The plan will guide growth over the next 30 years in order to accommodate the increasing resident and worker populations.

Three new local activity centres will provide community, commercial, retail and residential facilities. These will be located at City Road around the former Boyd School site, along Sturt Street and, in an ambitious proposal, on a deck over the entrance to City Link. The plan will be introduced to Council’s Future Melbourne Committee next Tuesday prior to a six week community consultation process.

Future Melbourne

The City of Melbourne has published a Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS) prepared by the Future Melbourne Committee outlining how “the municipality’s projected growth and development will be accommodated and managed […]

Project Melbourne: towards a sustainable city

Project Melbourne is a series of news articles and multimedia reports by The Age “aimed at encouraging and broadening public debate about Melbourne’s future” […]

Windsor redevelopment gains planning support

Denton Corker Marshall’s proposal for the redevelopment of the Windsor Hotel has received broad support from senior planners at Melbourne City Council […]