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:]

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.

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.

Heritage review for Melbourne’s street art

Skirt Lifter, Hosier Lane

Hosier Lane street art [Source: Melbourne Street Art]

Heritage Victoria has been asked by Planning Minister Justin Madden to undertake a study assessing the heritage value of culturally significant street art in Melbourne as well as identifying key street art areas. The report will advise on how Melbourne’s street art can be appropriately recognised and catalogued. The announcement follows the much publicised removal of a Banksy stencil by council workers.

Previous campaigning for the need to recognise street art includes Keith Haring’s mural in Collingwood. The work, dating from 1984, was subsequently included on the Victorian Heritage Register.

Built Environment Meets Parliament 2010

The annual conversation between parliamentarians and industry leaders will take place in Canberra from 15-16 June. BEMP 2010 will focus on strategic planning for Australian cities now and for the future, with the results of a capital city strategic plans audit to be released. The audit will measure current major city strategic plans against the COAG’s future capital city strategic planning criteria.

The opening night will include the presentation of the Australia Award for Urban Design. Further information is available on the BEMP website including a list of confirmed speakers and key note presentations from the 2009 event.

Karl Fender appointed AIA National President

Karl Fender, founding director of architectural practice Fender Katsalidis, has been appointed the Australian Institute of Architects’ 71st National President. His key priorities over the next 12 months include:

  • Sustainable communities, cities and architecture.
  • Furthering dialogue between the Federal Government and the profession on a range of issues and projects.
  • Establishing an Australian Government Architect position within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
  • Planning Reform.
  • Championing an urbanist view of Australian cities.
  • Fostering relationships between the Institute and architecture community working in Australia and offshore.

Industrial heritage podcast

Robur Tea Building, 1888, Architect Nahum-Barnet

Robur Tea Building, 1888, Architect: Nahum Barnet [Source: Victorian Heritage Database]

Sir Neil Cossons, former chairman of English Heritage, recently presented the 2010 Heritage Address. His talk focused on the conservation and preservation of industrial heritage worldwide. Heritage Victoria has made a podcast of the address available.

Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize

Aerial view of Bilbao

Aerial view of Bilbao [Source: Estibaliz Alvarez –]

Bilbao has won the inaugural Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize. The City of Melbourne gained an honourable mention along with Curitiba and New Delhi.

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.

Work starts on Melbourne Park redevelopment

Melbourne Park redevelopment stage 1

Melbourne Park redevelopment stage 1 – Rod Laver Arena and Margaret Court Arena [Source: Major Projects Victoria]

Bovis Lend Lease recently started work on the $363 million Melbourne Park redevelopment commissioned by Major Projects Victoria. The construction phase follows the preparation of a strategic master plan by Populous and Cox Architects investigating a vision for the Australian Open until 2030. The new facilities and refurbishment work is necessary to ensure the long term security of the Australian Open as one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments.

‘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.