Book Club
Tales of the City
Urban Design


Some welcome changes
Aaron Hewett

Following Saturday's State election win, Bracksy has annouced his new (and improved?) cabinet.

Three cabinet changes are particularly interesting from my perspective:

- Transport portfolio being split into two - Minister for Public Transport (Lynne Kosky) and Minister for Roads & Ports (Tim Pallas)

- Peter Batchelor "moving on" as Minister for Energy, Resources & Victorian Communities

- Justin Madden (former Minister for Sport, Recreation & Youth Affairs) becoming Planning Minister

FINALLY, Peter Batchelor has been given the boot from the transport portfolio after seven years as Minister and on the opposition benches before then. The new portfolio for Public Transport hopefully follows other structural changes to the Department of Infrastructure.

Another bloody planning minister! This portfolio is reshuffled more than blackjack cards in the Crown Casino. Let's hope Justin Madden can get a grip on this portfolio, on Melbourne 2030 and on being effectively the most powerful minister in the state. Thankfully, it appears to be his only portfolio (unlike Hullsy with Workplace Relations and Attorney General).


The PTUA are similarly pleased.

General 29th November, 2006 18:48:09   [#] [0 comments] 

Transport Issues Papers
Russell Degnan

Of interest to some of our readers. Melbourne City Council is asking for ideas and comments on their Transport Strategy. It covers the areas of public transport, freight, parking, walking, cycling, international experience, economy, environment, land use and taxis by asking a series of questions.

It is hell to download because it is split into a few dozen files, but may be worth taking the time to contribute to. Submissions are due on 30th September.

General 22nd August, 2005 19:55:27   [#] [0 comments] 

If only the Police association were as worried about shooting people, as they are when they are shot by a community member

During my HUSO1215 assessment #1 typing, I took time out to read the latest Victoria news online. They one that caught my eye, was "End solo patrols, urges union" in response to the sad events in the outer N.E. of Melbourne on the weekend that involved a male police officer and a young male community member. The quote that took this article from a piece of news to a piece of 'what did he just say!!' was the line:
ďHe also wants a review of policies that allow institutionalised people with a psychiatric history to be released into the community. Bailey had a history of mental illness diagnosed as obsessive compulsive disorder.Ē
"The question is, has the policy gone too far in a general sense that has led to a member being put at risk and the community being put at risk?" Mr McKenzie said.

He being the Police Association assistant secretary Bruce McKenzie, referring to the young male that shot the male police officer and then took his own life. Many arguments about roles and responsibilities will come out of this event, and will bring many painful arguments to the table for discussion. Painful, but any discussion away from reality tv is a blessing.
So then, what have I done about this outrage? I have contacted the Police Association assistant secretary Bruce McKenzie, and I spoke to his secretary. I asked what was the context of this quote, and what is the exact meaning of his perceived policy improvements. Firstly, she was surprised 'a lay person not connected to the press' was calling to ask this question, and secondly, absolutely did not know how to answer this question. My name and number has been taken, and I am to receive a returned cal by COB today. (Stay tuned for PART 2: THE ANSWER).
It saddens me that these events do take place, but what saddens me even further is the labelling of one person, to be reflexed onto society. Imagine if you were hospitalised for OCD related to excess washing of your hands? Does this mean you will no longer be allowed to hold a driver's license and be let out after dark, as you will shoot a policeman on the way home from a 21st party? This article has offered us a chance for reflection of our process of public policy, and how is it implemented, enforced and updated. Let's hope this is managed in a balance argument in our State Government.
PART TWO: At 1619 today, I received my returned call. What was outlined to me was that the Herald Sun had paraphrased content that came from a discussion that the Police Association is concerned that (an example of the psych hospital in Ballarat was given) on day 1, 600 people were institutionalised for mental illness, and then on day 2, that institution was closed, and those 600 people were released without society integration, and the only public service that MUST attend to all phone calls is the Police. The relevance of this statement, was that Police are not equipped to respond to these calls, and that this incident has brought up the policy of de-institutionalising certified patients, and that the Police wear the brunt of this. We shared a 22 minute phone call, and it was good to talk to the Police Association. They have used this media outlet to raise a burning issue, that is affecting the amount of public and police officers' lives being lost on duty, and that it should be reviewed and it is a community issue. Public safety, and public welfare, and the supply of Police officers, to me falls under the wider banner of Planning, and how we help build better communities. Thank you all for your comments.

General 26th April, 2005 14:23:30   [#] [3 comments] 

Review - Our Course to Date
Citizen #381277

While this intended to be somewhat light-hearted, it does contain serious thoughts on the current structure of the RMIT B app(sci) Planning course...

While talking with several RMIT students concerning their various work
placement jobs over the summer, a recurring theme has emerged concerning
the adequacy of training in the classroom prior to starting in the planning
workforce. While generally it is an accepted norm that students will
experience a steep learning curve when they first being to work in any of
their chosen profession, be it social work, psychology or planning, it
would appear that young student planners are completely unaware of many of
the problems, tasks and requirements of working in the profession. Does the
problem lie in the overall course structure or in the individualsí learning
abilities? Far from attempting to answer these rhetorical questions, the
purpose of this piece is to assess the progression from 1st Year to the
beginning of work placement at the beginning of 3rd Year.

In first year the School of Social Science and Planning chooses to group
all students together in a set of foundation classes that should, in theory
give them a grounding in the basics of what they will be learning over the
next 2-3 years. This is all well and good, but feedback from students
suggests that while the grounding courses are interesting, many donít see
them as relevant to their chosen course and ultimately, their target
profession. On the basis of these (sketchy) reports, it would seem that a
large portion of first year students within the school feel that they
arenít given enough starting tuition in their chosen field. This may well
be the case, but when it comes down to it, the skills learnt in that first
semester do contribute largely to the success of the student later in their
university career.

In my own personal view, the introductory class on planning did little to
prepare me for subsequent forays into the subject. In fact, if it wasnít
for the two study camps we were assigned to, Iím pretty sure the subject
wouldíve been a complete waste of time. Not only have I completely
forgotten most of the topics (if any) covered by the class, but also the
mish-mash of class times meant that most students didnít turn up to the
scheduled classes.

Moreover, due to the Planning course being closely linked with the
Environment course, we as planning students were exposed to all the wonders
of the many facets of environmental management. To a degree. Cursory
investigation of Environmental and biological processes in several classes
seemed to further harden many studentsí hearts against ever getting to
study real planning subjects, such as the mythical History and Theory of
Planning. Even Strategic Planning was largely regarded as something of a
joke, despite the wonderful tuition of Michael Buxton and Robin Goodman.

It wasnít until 2nd year that we finally got to grips with the core of the
planning system in Statutory Planning and Environment, taken by the
ever-popular Trevor Budge. While generally the subject helped with those
who had never seen a planning scheme before, given a few hours to do some
reading, a lot was fairly self-explanatory. The sessions on the Planning
and Environment Act 1987 were rather good, letting us get into the
important sections of the act etc etc. This was possibly the most important
subject for us. It showed the basics and general function of the VPP while
also incorporating several other important sections on relevant documents,
the aforementioned P & E Act and a few practice reports.

Semester 2 of 2nd year allowed us some greater freedom in the selection of
our ever-diminishing list of school electives, while Alan Marchís Urban
Design & Planning subject yielded some interesting new information
regarding drawing conventions, structure plans and several urban design
research techniques. I think, perhaps, that the design areas of Alanís
class left quite a few students trying to keep their heads above the water,
seeing as many had very little drawing skills. This was perhaps the only
failing of the course outline.

Overall, the course has provided us with a general overview of many of the facets that constitute 'decent' planning skills. 8/10

General 3rd February, 2005 22:24:34   [#] [1 comment] 

Odds and Ends
Russell Degnan

A few links before I flee the country at the end of the week and stop posting for a bit (maybe).

Jim Davidson has an excellent article on architectural heritage in The Age. The interesting point I got out of it is the importance of respecting the spiritual function of heritage buildings when redeveloping and renovating them. This is a problem of course, if the building is to serve a new function - such as the post office, or a warehouse apartment - but it makes a certain amount of sense for Victorian terraces. The two I've lived in have both oozed character, reflecting a fascinating history of renovations and occupancy. For all their flaws - and they are many - there is a certain charm that can't be produced without layer upon layer of heritage.

Australian Policy Online has a good summary of the effects of the London Congestion Charge (hat tip: Ben Muse). There are a lot more urban planning articles available there as well. Particularly note the link to the State of Australian Cities Conference.

The expended roster at 2 Blowhards has started talking about the built environment again. Of particular note is an post on Ian Nairn and this summary of other posts of note.

Most of you will have seen this, but the government has released Interim Height Controls as stop-gap while they work out what to do about Melbourne 2030. This issue will be huge if it is not resolved by the next election in November 2006 - expect a serious review of the density aspects of Melbourne 2030 in the next 12 months.

Finaly, while the sleepless, disorganised carnage of the semester just gone is now but a rapidly fading memory, some of us will no doubt get something useful from Tyler Cowen and John Quiggin's time management tips. Including this mostly serious essay on Structured Procrastination.

General 9th November, 2004 21:36:21   [#] [0 comments] 

Federal funding for PT
Aaron Hewett

Ari on his blog has brought up something that should fire up some urban planners and public transport advocates and involve us in the happenings during the week before 9 Oct.

The state/federal divide between public transport funding and roads funding. Read Ari's article here.

Public transport, to the federal government, is somehow seen as a social issue that should be addressed and funded by the states. Roads on the other hand are happily funded by the Federal Government under the Roads of National Significance program.

I would argue, as an anti-roads advocate and not a constitutional lawyer, that the Feds should only be building roads that cross state boundaries, and not major metropolitan freeways. If they wish to enter into the domain of funding metropolitan roads, then they can fund metropolitan public transport too (like they used to back when Labor was in power - under the Building Better Cities programme).

There is an parliamentary inquiry that should be delivering a report in November about Federal involvement in urban planning. This report will hopefully urge the PM of the day (Latham, Howard or Costello) to fund more public transport infrastructure programs.

What do other people think??

General 1st October, 2004 18:17:53   [#] [2 comments] 

Connex gets fined $2.4M
Aaron Hewett

Connex has finally been fined for cancelled services, late trains and general operational tardiness according to this article in The Age today.

They were fined $2.4 million dollars by the Victorian Government.

This does bring up a dilemma, however. The service provider (Connex) is paid by the State Government to provide an efficient and timely service to us (commuters). They also receive revenue from ticketing and fines.

If their level of service drops below a certain level (measured by train lateness and no-shows), they get fined by the Government.

However, since Connex's main source of revenue is from the government (in the form of state taxes and from the GST), the burden for paying this fine rests with the taxpayer and the commuter (and lucky for me - I'm both).

So what exactly is the government going to do with this $2.4M? Run the extra trains that Connex won't? Train drivers like they should have done while running the defunct M>Train network? Upgrade rail services? Or will they simply label it "surplus" for the timebeing and use it to buy votes at the next state election?

The reality is that Connex is hardly going to be in a position to improve services with less money. So while taxpayers have got an extra $2.4M to play with, the quality of their rail services is going to diminish, and there will be more pressure at the end of the year to raise ticket prices.

We are in a ludicrous situation which relies on competition but there isn't any (because who really has the expertise and the want to run a city's PT services?), and where fining service providers actually has the reverse effect on service delivery.

To my mind, the entire reason the Victorian (Labor) Government persists with a privatised public transport system is so it is removed from direct responsibility (and direct blame) for the problems that eventuate. They, afterall, have had many opportunities to end this costly charade.

General 11th September, 2004 19:19:41   [#] [5 comments] 

Links and so forth
Russell Degnan

Hencho en Mexico (via Diamond Geezer) is making excursions to the extremes of Melbourne's rail system. Well worth a look, particularly if you are interested in the technical aspects of rail travel.

Perhaps useful for someone, this history of the competition to design Canberra is pretty good.

As also is this short description of the end of Melbourne's Land Boom in the 1880s. It put our current property boom to shame, with land increasing in value up to 20 times in just a few years.

(Via Crumb Trail) Perhaps the solution to the problems posed by having grass as a permeable surface in a street. This grass paving has dozens of potentially useful applications for urban spaces: carparks, small backyards, quiet streets, public parks and along tram and train lines. As well as being greener and more aesthetically pleasing than impermeable paving methods, it is better for stormwater applications as well. Of course, that could mean a lot of mowing

General 14th August, 2004 17:22:14   [#] [0 comments] 

Melbourne`s Lanes
Aaron Hewett

For those who are interested, I've started taking photos of Melbourne's CBD lanes.

There are approximately 180 of these things between Spencer, Spring, Flinders and LaTrobe Sts, and if I do one per week it will take me 3.5 years.

The photos will be uploaded once a week to my Lanes of Melbourne blog.

Meanwhile, we can debate the merits of these laneways - whether you feel they are an appealing part of the city landscape or are a major security concern. The debate can take place on here or on my main blog - Urban Creature.

And congrats to CvP for it's one year anniversary!! A year active in cyberspace is a very long time!

General 3rd August, 2004 13:47:04   [#] [9 comments] 

We turned 1 and noone noticed
Russell Degnan

Last week, Civil Pandemonium celebrated a year's existence. Our traffic is modest, and our output likewise, but there have still been highlights. So, here are 12 of the better ones (most discussed, most linked to, or just ones I liked):

Some thoughts on Roxburgh Park

Of Platforms and such...

What price, which environment?

Yarra Shock!

Two streets, two cities

Wednesday Eyesore: Intuitive entrance making

Save "Our" Coast from the locals

A Long Look at Federation Square

News from the beyond the UGB!

The Mythical Green Wedges

The Things we Take for Granted: Sewerage

Spam, spam, spam, spam

Thanks for reading, commenting and posting.

General 2nd August, 2004 18:44:58   [#] [0 comments] 

  [next -->]


May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015

Recent Comments

Optimal stop spacing and
      Russ, Tony Morton
Mode Choice and Rational
      Russ, Jason Murphy
The Gastronomic Pub Crawl
      Russ, Andrew
Monday Melbourne: CCLIV,
Monday Melbourne: CCXXXII
      Russ, Andrew
Monday Melbourne: CCXXXII


Scribbling on Bricks
Melbourne 2030 Portal
Melbourne on Transit
Save Our Suburbs
Sustainable Melbourne
Urban Creature


The Next American City
Andrew Blum
Architecture and Morality
Bright Lights Dim Beauty
       of Chicago

City Comforts
The City Desk
City States
Diamond Geezer
Forum for Urban Design
Me, My Life +

Progressive Reactionary
Rebuilding Place in the
       Urban Space

Urban Cartography
Urban Commons
Urban Planning Research

Design and Development

A Daily Dose of

Beyond Brilliance,
       Beyond Stupidity

Brand Avenue
CoolTown Studios
City of Sound
Curbed [LA] [SF]
The Ground Floor
Lebbeus Woods
The Measures Taken
New (Sub)Urbanism
Private Sector
       Development Blog

Reason Commentaries
Richard Green Sit Down Man, You're
       a Bloody Tragedy

Urban Planning Blog
Veritas et Venustas
Wow Flutter

Culture and Theory

2 Blowhards
Abstract Dynamics
Aesthetic Grounds
Anne Galloway
James Howard Kunstler
Junk for Code
Karrie Jacobs
Life Without Buildings
Martin Krieger
Place Space
Rough Theory
The Sesquipedalist
Side Effects
Space and Culture
Strange Harvest


Blog Like You Give a Damn
The Commons Blog
Environmental and
       Urban Economics

Impact Analysis
Jetson Green
Landscape and Urbanism
Muck and Mystery
The Perfect City
Web Urbanist
World Changing


cfsmtb in low
       earth orbit

Live from the Third Rail
Peter Gordon's Blog
Streets Blog
Train Blog
The Transportationist

Non Blogs

Planners Web
Project for Public

New Urbanism
American Planning

Polar inertia

Australian Policy

Liveable Places
Australian Transport
       Discussion Board

Urban Design Forum
Urban Residue
Environmental News
Metropolitan Transport