Will the Urban Growth Boundary really shrink?

Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell - Edward Abbey

Not long after joining with the then Labor government to expand Melbourne’s Urban Growth Boundary by 43,600 hectares, the Liberal-National Party coalition  has now held forth the prospect that the government might shrink it in future.

In announcing a new biennial review system Planning Minister and Northern Metropolitan Region MP,  Matthew Guy, said that arguments for contracting the boundary would be considered, not only possible further expansion (Shane Green, “Minister: I don’t know who expanded urban boundary,” The Saturday Age, 12 February 2011).

Much of the expansion announced in June 2010 is targeted for Whittlesea, Mitchell and Hume. This is of direct concern because in the absence of investment in a comprehensive public transport network it threatens choking road congestion in Banyule and surrounding municipalities. The Labor government’s proposed North-East Link would worsen rather than lessen any such congestion.

The expansion of the UGB has been roundly attacked by planning experts on two major grounds; it will contribute to further urban sprawl which is environmentally destructive and very expensive to develop relative to brownfield sites; and that ample sites within the pre-existing urban growth boundary can be found to meet the housing needs of the projected future population of Melbourne. In fact the Coalition has already identified three areas for urban renewal, in Fisherman’s Bend, Footscray Road and the VicRoads headquarters location at Kew Junction.

One immediate issue worth pondering in the event that the government were to restore a semblance of sanity in  planning policy would be who carries the loss on land sales effected on the understanding that land within the new UGB would be available for urban development? There are reports of significant land sales to developers both in anticipation and following the expansion of the UGB. It can be imagined that the eight or nine major outer urban developers who appeared to run planning policy under the Labor government would be far less than pleased. However, the smartest of them probably maintain conditional purchase options on land on the urban fringe.

In any event, a strong focus on brownfields developments within Melbourne to cater for future growth would be far and away the best thing for everyone, and especially the residents of Banyule and surrounding municipalities.

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About Friends of Banyule Inc

President & Public Officer of Friends of Banyule Inc, a community not- for-profit organisation to enhance and protect the environmental assets of Banyule City. Currently fighting the proposed NE Link freeway through one of inner Melbourne's most ecologically sensitive areas and historical areas.
This entry was posted in Baillieu Government, Car Dependency, Ne-Link Freeway, Population Growth, Public Transport, Seat of Ivanhoe, Urban Growth Boundary, Vic State Election 2010 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Will the Urban Growth Boundary really shrink?

  1. VivKay says:

    The solution to environmental destruction, diminishing native biodiversity, the loss of native grasslands and woodlands, will never be addressed while we accommodate population growth and urban sprawl. As MP Kelvin Thomson said, it’s like dealing with obesity by wearing a larger size pair of pants! Our commitment to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions to 20% renewable by 2020 is looking impossible! Our population growth is not inevitable, or unavoidable. It’s all based on the one-dimensional rationale that we must have an never-ending growth in numbers of people to keep our economy ticking! However, there is no evidence to support it. On the contrary, its driving more poverty and the costs associated with growth keep outstripping Federal funding and infrastructure. Once our State government declares that Melbourne is “FULL”, and no more urban boundary extensions, then we can concentrate on fixing up our transport, and all the other “shortages”.

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