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Planning and the Labor Party Part 1 – Melbourne 2030
Citizen #381277

Naturally, this is a very amateur assessment so flame away!

As an exercise in fair-handedness, I’ve decided to write a piece on what the Labor Party is doing in regard to Planning in Victoria.

As noted in my previous post, the Victorian Liberals have offered very little in terms of a viable alternative to the current Victorian planning system. Far from creating policy, the Liberals criticise the system that operates under the current Labor Government. This is quite understandable, especially considering the continuous problems that dog the Government’s metropolitan strategy, Melbourne 2030.

The main problem with M2030 is that it is first and foremost (in my opinion) a public relations document, designed to alleviate fears from some sectors in the community. Advocacy groups such as Save Our Suburbs, the Brighton Residents for Urban Protection and the Save the Casey Foothills Association all have certain agendas they wish to push, and M2030 is a response to these concerns.

Secondly, the while within the document the reader will see all the happy smiling faces of residents, colourful graphs and short catchy phrases, there is very little mention of actual funding strategies. The line between solid strategic policy and glossy brochure begins to blur…

Additionally, what should be complementary strategies don’t actually appear to be terribly complementary. Take for example Direction 1: A More Compact City and Direction 8: Better Transport links. The former concerns the much maligned Activity Centre policy while the latter revolves obviously around upgrading Melbourne’s transport infrastructure. For example, let’s assess the following two directions:

Direction 1.3 Locate a substantial proportion of new housing in or close to activity centres and other strategic redevelopment sites that offer good access to services and transport.

Direction 8. 1: Upgrade and develop the Principal Public Transport Network and local public transport services to connect activity centres and link Melbourne to the regional cities

Clearly Direction 1.3 is referring to already established activity centres that offer good access to services and transport. Direction 8.1 seeks to upgrade existing public transport links to activity centres. With M2030 the old chicken or egg proverb is a good sort of parallel. If you plan to put housing into a certain area, people will find it hard to see the benefits if there is a lack of transport options. Likewise, public transport operators will be hard pressed to increase services to an area that (currently) has a very small population…but I digress Such directions when put next to each other show that there are sections of M2030 that are quite conservative in nature. For such a ‘revolutionary’ document there are certainly a large number of initiatives that are rather timid.

As the former Planning Minister, Ms Delahunty noted in her address to Parliament 9 October 2002:

The overarching plan is to protect what we love about Melbourne while absorbing up to an extra 1 million people. It is a great place to be. It will be a greener city. It will have better transport links. It will be a more compact city -- a city that brings shops, services and opportunities to your doorstep rather than seeing subdivisions out on the fringes struggling for those services that many others take for granted.

Conflicting aims within aims, M2030 is as leaky as a rusty sieve and will need to be fully assessed should the Labor party retain office come November 2006


Next week Part 2 – The Victorian System

Planning 6th April, 2005 15:29:32   [#] 

Comments

So uh...
... for someone from a different continent...what's the quick and dirty summary of what's going on. Is this a project to get people to stay in the city instead of escaping to the suburbs?
WWL  19th April, 2005 16:15:15  

Yes
Short answer: yes, sort of. As I understand it (I'm not a planner myself, just friends with a lot of them...), it's a plan to squash a million more people into Melbourne without too much more suburbs (they extend arguably too far out in some directions already), and without completely ruining the city in the process. The plan is to concentrate medium and high-density developments in "activity centres" close to transport hubs.

As Mr Anderson has indicated, it's rather vague on how this is actually to be achieved...
Robert Merkel  21st April, 2005 01:33:00  

On the head
You hid the nail on the head there, Rob. As you can probably guess, trying to cram a lot of people into Melbourne without expanding the boundaries only leaves the option to build upwards. There's a lot of vocal opposition from residents' groups about this. Quite frankly, they give me the shits, but I think I've written about that earlier...


Tom  21st April, 2005 19:54:16  


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