The Minister for Planning Mathew Guy and the CEO of the re-named Metropolitan Planning Authority (MPA) Peter Seamer spoke at a VPELA seminar on Wednesday.

The Minister summarised key planning reforms during his time as Minster, which included prescribing timeframes to the planning scheme amendment process, commercial and residential zone reforms, Plan Melbourne and the soon to be implemented codified planning system VicSmart.

In response to questions, the Minister responded to concerns in particular in relation to the application of the new residential zones.  He stated that the concern about up to 80 per cent of land in some municipalities being proposed to be located in the Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ), the most restrictive zone, should not be a concern as such proposals will not be approved in that form.  Furthermore, he emphasised that all municipalities will be required to locate a minimum of 10 per cent of their land within the Residential Growth Zone (RGZ), being the zone which encourages development.

As the Glen Eiras new residential zones were approved by the Minister with the NRZ applying to approximately 78 per cent of the Municipality and the RGZ applying to approximately 2 per cent, it will be interesting to watch how future residential zones roll-out in other municipalities.  In this regard, it was interesting that Peter Seamer presented figures that suggest development opportunities in existing suburbs will decrease by approximately 3,000 dwellings per annum.

With Plan Melbourne to be released in a few weeks time, the MPA will take an active role in planning for urban renewal areas in addition to its role in the growth areas.  Peter Seamer focused on the new role of the MPA, which is earmarked to be the responsible authority for new urban renewal precincts such as Fishermans Bend and E-Gate as well as to be involved in the planning of six existing employment precincts, which include Monash, Dandenong South and Sunshine.

It is intended that MPA will prepare management plans for these existing employment precincts to determine how they will be developed in the future.  The details of the MPA continuing involvement in these employment precincts is yet to be resolved.  As one of the actions for the MPA outlined in Plan Melbourne is to streamline the approvals process for these precincts, it will be interesting to see how the involvement of another authority will reduce red tape – or is this part of the re-introduction of a long-overdue true metropolitan planning authority?

On the whole, the Peter Seamer comments were informative and gave a good overview of how the MPA will work.

While the planning of new areas provides opportunities for exciting new development, it also brings significant challenges and infrastructure costs when compared with development in existing suburban areas where infrastructure already exists.  We acknowledge that the development of urban renewal areas is inevitable, a good thing and will contribute to meeting population growth demands however, the regeneration of our existing suburbs is another planning tool that should not be restricted unreasonably for political reasons.

fishermans bend

Fishermans Bend

yarra's edge docklands

Yarra’s Edge Docklands