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Despotic Planning Systems? Why Not!
Citizen #381277

Why not indeed, especially if the Liberal Party takes power in the next five years. The article raised in the previous post mentions Ted Baillieu, Opposition Planning spokesman.

" Opposition planning spokesman Ted Baillieu yesterday vowed to scrap the State Government's urban growth boundary, a cornerstone of the metropolitan planning blueprint Melbourne 2030.

Yes, Ted, great foresight there. The problem with scrapping the current UGB would far outweight any 'negatives' that are resultant from the recent legislation. Rampant growth, particularly in Melbourne's south west is steadily encroaching on prime farming land and by all accounts, the housing estates are becoming more and more 'American Fucksville' by the year. The problem with development in once rural areas is not only is it quite hard to commute into the city from these areas, but once these houses are built, then the land they are built on will not be reclaimed in the future for farming. In Victoria, we have this misconception that our grazing pastures and fields are endless. They aren't. Hell, even the BBC are aware that our drought hasn't broken yet! ...and here we are developing prime land on Melbourne's fringe!

Mr Baillieu said the boundary was contributing to a land price rise on Melbourne's fringe. The Liberals would probably want to "re-engineer" the blueprint, he said, with legislation to remove the growth boundary and a review of the land designated as "green wedge".

Somehow, I don't think that by 'review' Mr Baillieu is talking about increasing our current Green Wedges with any sizable gains. The fact that the Liberals are even considering to do away with these vital pieces of land around Melbourne signals that environmental conservation is not on high on the agenda. Naturally, we can't have a price-rise on Melbourne's periphery, either, otherwise the poor will reinhabit the inner city, and what a terrible thing that would be. Quite frankly, the increase in prices around the UGB is (in my opinion) just a knee jerk reaction to the one 'tough' stance the Bracks Government has made over development.

This brings me to my final point...

However, Mr Baillieu stopped short of promising to scrap Melbourne 2030, which he described as a "dud".

How can a seemingly well-educated man make such blatantly stupid comments? All the elements of M2030 that Mr Baillieu mentioned have been the successful elements! Of all the directions laid out in M2030, the Green Wedge has had two provisions added to the Victorian Planning Provisions, while all City and Shire Coucils affected by the UGB reconise it in their Municipal Strategic Statements.

Actually, I probably should address the 'Despotic' section of my post...

When we see articles such as this, it really makes me wonder why we, as planners, must pander to the every singular will of every little weekend warrior who just can't have that carport/sign/tree/building erected within a 3 km radius of his $400k castle in Kew. If the planning system is to be brought up speed (and it needs to be), then the State Government and/or VCAT need to stand up tell these NIMBYists to sit down, shut up and accept that no, there WILL be higher density development in the inner city. Of course, the NIMBYists will argue that they don't live in the inner city. Well I've got news for you "I vote Labour at State and Liberal at Fed", the city now reaches PAST Pakenham, Glen Waverley is considered relatively close compared to where those poor single mothers have to live out near 'Lakeside'. Camberwell, Brighton, Middle Park, Kew, the list is endless are now 'inner city', and as such should be treated as inner city, and if 'inner city' includes higher density living and retail, then so be it!

VCAT should have Jubilee year, where they just throw out all the objections to inner city planning permits! Pish posh bah humbug!

Planning 23rd August, 2004 00:36:07   [#] 


Actually...let me retract one statement...
Lets just forget that last part about the Jubilee year. Stupid Idea. It was late and I was pepped up on V and Berrocca.
Tom  23rd August, 2004 13:57:44  

A few comments
I think you are over-stating the agricultural importance of the land on the periphery Tom. Urban land-use as a percentage of total farmable area is very low in almost any place int he world you could mention. True, there are local areas of better land but the fact that housing is a more economic use of the land says a lot.

There are other important reasons to not have sprawl though, including (somewhat controversially) infrastructure costs, pollution and the fact not cited often enough: escept for a very small demographic - people with young kids - these suburbs are shit to live in.

Regarding the BBC. They are showing their ignorance here. Except for about a half a dozen years, some part of Australia has always been in drought. It is that kind of continent. It is basically useless to measure drought beyond the boundaries of a water catchment.

You are right on property prices. They may have gone up marginally - at least they should have anyway - but there is no land shortage and the productivity commission has an inquiry to prove it. I wouldn't lay too much faith in the Green Wedges being protected for farming in the future however, for reasons I have mentioned before. The Green Wedges are being set aside for recreation.

Regarding the last section on the inner city, I disagree. High density development needs to be around places that are pedestrian (and bike) orientated and can be well served by public transport. There is no rational reason why that needs to be in Kew, or Camberwell, when it is perfectly sensible, and probably even smarter, to put it in Ringwood, Dandenong and even Pakenham. It is cost-cutting on the part of the government with respect to public transport that makes the inner city the only current viable place for higher densities. Those residents are right to object; they already live in reasonably dense suburbs, why start to impinge on their amenity?
Russ  25th August, 2004 00:56:32  

I was overstating agriculture, mainly because it's close to my heart, seeing as I come from the country and all (now let us never speak of my past again). Also the drought issue. I sort of went off topic here a little bit, but the point is still the same. South Eastern Victoria is one of the most fertile and for the most part, one of the soggiest areas in Australia. The fact that the last drought has been quite long makes it worse.

As for the inner city/periphery issue. I'm not too sure that high density would work in places such as Pakenham and Dandenong. Not to mention others such as Sunbury etc etc. I'll focus on Pakenham because I'm quite familar with it...

Pakenham is somewhat of a historical anomaly in terms of urban development. Orignally the town centre was centred around what is now the 'fast food strip' on the freeway, and only in the last 40 odd years did the retail centre shift towards the train line (for reasons I forget). Recently, in the last 10 years, Pakenham has expanded in such a manner as to alienate the old retail centre around the railway. Pakenham has now become a one of the largest car based towns (IMO) in the South East. The housing developments add to this.

So, I guess what I'm trying to convey (not very well either) is that by it's very nature, Pakenham couldn't be made into the high density, pedestrian and public transport orientated town that we require. I used the examples of Kew and Camberwell because they have a relatively strong link with public transport compared to the outer 'burbs, and therefore it would be easier to implement higher density residental aras.

Tom  25th August, 2004 12:53:09  

Hence my point.
Thomas, your enthusiasm for debate stirs the soul.

That Pakenham is a car-based suburb I don't dispute. I doubt it is the worst, that would be Rowville, or maybe Narre-Warren East. But you are right in saying that it is bad. What I think, is that the focus is on the wrong area. I'm not convinced that high density is a necessary pre-requisite for good public transport. It helps to an extent, but the structure is more important, and Pakenham, as an independent town should have (or had) good structure.

Putting high density into the inner suburbs is the easy solution. It is also a grossly unfair solution to impose on a suburb that has good structure, and works. More importantly, only marginal benefits are achieved by putting more people in these places. In short, I think it is a cop-out. Much bigger benefits could be achieved by focusing on the bad areas and finding solutions to their horrendous structural problems.

There is no reason to be blaise about bad urban planning practises on the urban fringe. The benefits of a good environment should go to those residents too, and as planners, it is our responsibility to ensure that some semblance of good urban form is achieved.
Russ  25th August, 2004 23:03:10  

Wading in...
I've never been to Pakenham but I've been to Narrewarren.

While I agree with Russ that inner suburban areas that work well shouldn't bare the majority of the burden of higher densities. Doing so may make these areas into areas that don't work so well.

However, places in the outer suburbs are essentially suburban wastelands. Their only hope is to knock everything down and start again. Increasing density out there will be like building sandcastles out of pig shit.

The government has obviously chosen the cheapest route (saving on infrastructure costs, etc while frightening Camberwell nimby's) and the opposition has basically pandered to the pig shit developers by proposing to drop the UGB.

Unfortunately I don't have a solution to this one.
Aaron  25th August, 2004 23:55:26  

You are far too pessimistic
As much as I hate the outer suburbs they are not so bad that they can't be saved. Although I don't necessarily think they will be. The only really permanent feature are the lot-sizes and the position of roads (and the latter can be closed). Whereas improvements to the urban form depend on so many other factors - the quality of footpaths and bikepaths, the availability of transport options, the relative position of shops and employment.

Part of the problem is that the planning system doesn't look at the right thing. Consider the aims of Melbourne 2030. Now think about the planning system. Does it make any large scale plans for the urban structure that relate to people? No, it just just specifies different zones that you can/cannot have certain land uses.

Now think about good urban design, the existence of paths, vistas, and a pedestrian friendly environment. Does it plan for them? No, it just regulates specific private land use to prvent conflict.

What it does do may have some merit, but it is essentially a tool for petty bureaucrats and nimbyists to fight development. It doesn't actually plan in the sense that there is some eventual urban form that can be attained or strived for. Instead it just muddles along, hoping that separate government programs relating to transport and urban design will ameliorate the deficiencies.

Not that I have a solution either though. But my concern is that the complexity of the city itself is too great for the level of control we are trying to apply. I'll save that thought for another day though.
Russ  29th August, 2004 02:24:28  


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