After a long wait, the State Government has finally released the metropolitan planning strategy, ‘Plan Melbourne’.

Plan Melbourne is a strategic document intended to guide the growth and development of the City until 2050.

Following release of the draft version in October last year, Plan Melbourne has been revised with a substantial increase in the forecast population from 6.5 million to 7.7 million.  Other changes include the proposed new alignment of the Melbourne Rail Link (previously known as the Melbourne Metro).

The Metropolitan Planning Authority (MPA) will oversee implementation of Plan Melbourne and will play a key role in the development of large strategic redevelopment sites such as Fishermans Bend and E-Gate in addition to continuing to prepare precinct structure plans for greenfield sites.

At the release, Planning Minister Matthew Guy stated that Plan Melbourne “is a comprehensive plan …that caters for a projected population of 7.7 million people by 2051 and provides a solid foundation to meet these challenges”.

One of the central focuses of Plan Melbourne is to protect the suburbs with most housing growth to occur in strategic redevelopment sites, the central City and in new greenfield suburbs.  Whilst an argument can be made to protect small parts of some of the established residential areas based on heritage or special neighbourhood character values, there are large parts of existing areas which provide excellent access to services and facilities and should accommodate residential growth.  This opportunity has been missed in Plan Melbourne.

The timing of the release of Plan Melbourne in relation to other significant State-wide planning policy changes is also concerning.  For example, it is frustrating that Plan Melbourne was released after advisory committee hearings for the new residential zones concluded. The implementation of the new residential zones has a key role in implementing some of the Plan Melbourne objectives.

Furthermore, the draft version of the revised Planning Policy Framework, which among other things seeks to implement the objectives and key directions of Plan Melbourne into all Victorian planning schemes, was released months before the final version of Plan Melbourne.

Over the last year the State Government has been implementing major planning reform changes while a metropolitan planning strategy was still being developed.  The process and timing has been a classic case of the cart coming before the horse.

Reaction to Plan Melbourne has been less than enthusiastic.  A few of the comments we observed in the press include:

Last month’s State budget had no substantive funding for anything else in the plan because it has all been blown on Denis Napthine’s expensive dud tunnel“.

(Brian Tee, opposition spokesman for Planning)

“There does seem to be some retrofitting of policy to match some of the announcements that have just come out.  The East-West Link …we would not identify as a priority project”

(Brett Davis, Planning Institute of Australia state president)

“Very disappointing, little has changed from the October draft and opportunities to facilitate affordable housing and increase housing choice have been lost”

(Roz Hansen,  Chair of the Metropolitan Strategy Ministerial Advisory Committee)

Apart from some of the residential policies, our main concerns relate to the implementation of Plan Melbourne.  Funding for the proposed infrastructure identified in the plan will be critical.  Government will also need to make some tough decisions to ensure local minorities are not inappropriately influencing key metropolitan policies and infrastructure.  Without adequate funding and political will, Plan Melbourne will end up as yet another irrelevant planning document gathering dust on the shelf.

The full Plan Melbourne document can be found here: http://www.planmelbourne.vic.gov.au/

Please give us a call if you wish to discuss how Plan Melbourne may impact you.

Extract from the Plan Melbourne document.

Extract from the Plan Melbourne document.