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.
- Pushing the boundary (theage.com.au)
- Victims of urban sprawl (theage.com.au)
- Plans for new inner-city suburb (heraldsun.com.au)
- Land shortage, price hike link ‘a myth’ (theage.com.au)
- Melbourne jumps its boundary (theage.com.au)
- Melbourne simply cannot go on for ever (theage.com.au)