Plan Melbourne … from a Sydneysider perspective

Victoria is well recognised for its preparedness to read its economic tarot cards and to initiate necessary reform to achieve a greater gain. It was the first state to introduce local government amalgamations, it successfully managed Melbourne’s transition from its deep-rooted manufacturing past to an outward-looking knowledge-based service economy and it pioneered metropolitan growth area planning in a period of national rapid city expansion. Through the introduction of its new metropolitan strategy, Victoria may also be the first state to recognise the role of ‘planning’ as an economic tool, fundamental to better connecting people and places and to supporting the productivity of Melbourne as a globally focussed business centre. Plan Melbourne acknowledges that the planning system can play a major role in influencing private-sector investment decisions and therefore influence key economic variables, including economic output and employment growth.

Adopted as the Victorian Government’s metropolitan planning strategy (May 2014), Plan Melbourne guides the way that Melbourne will grow and change over the next 40 years.

Plan Melbourne is government policy.  A planning scheme amendment and an updated ministerial direction has been introduced to give statutory effect to Plan Melbourne in decision making.

Plan Melbourne:

  • … Is a strategy to house, employ and connect people to jobs and services and to ensure that while Melbourne grows, its best features are protected and enhanced.
  • …provides communities with clear direction about the future of their neighbourhoods, identifies areas to accommodate future growth and seeks to build a vibrant central city core.
  • …is an integrated land use and transport strategy that will shape the economic future for Victoria.

It’s not so much what Melbourne seeks to do or even the initiatives that it draws upon to achieve its aims - there are many similarities in this respect between the metropolitan strategies for Sydney and Melbourne - but what impresses us Sydneysiders the most about Plan Melbourne is the clear and precise language of its message.

There is a distinct ‘we mean business’ undertone to Plan Melbourne that successive NSW Governments have struggled to articulate. There is no hiding the economic imperative to grow Melbourne as efficiently as possible.

Complemented by a planning reform agenda that has introduced code assessment planning, new zone structures and growth area framework plans, Melbourne is well-placed to meet the challenges of growth head-on in the future.

The government has already commenced implementation of Plan Melbourne by creating the new Metropolitan Planning Authority which will work in partnership with local governments and the community.

Some of the Features of Plan Melbourne

  • Plan Melbourne will help guide the evolution of an integrated economic network by 2050. Under the strategy, there is a mature understanding of the city’s future employment drivers and of how major economic nodes within the city function and benefit each other. The city’s productive employment centres will be located along an enhanced transport network, linking an expanded central city, national employment clusters and state-significant industrial precincts.
  • Melbourne’s Integrated Economic Triangle connects Hastings–Dandenong with the Hume and Wyndham-Geelong, creating increased options for investment and jobs along existing and future transport corridors.
  • Plan Melbourne includes a number of important transport initiatives that respond to a changing economy and a growing city. With a focus on the efficiency of the city’s road network, getting people to work and to other activities, and on expanding the capacity of the city’s ports and airports to handle growing volumes of goods and passengers, these ‘game-changing’ infrastructure projects include: - the East West and the North East Freeway Links, the City Link-Tullamarine Fwy widening, and the future Outer Metropolitan Ring Road; - the Regional Rail Link, the Melbourne Rail Link (including the Melbourne Airport Rail Link) and the Cranbourne-Pakenham Rail Corridor Project; and -the expansion of the Port of Melbourne at Webb Dock and a new port (the Port of Hastings), as well as preparations for a possible third airport in Melbourne’s south-east.
  • The City of Melbourne (from 1993 to 2013) has the fifth-fastest population growth of all Australian local governments and has seen the creation of over 120,000 new jobs over this decade. For the year ended 30 June 2013, Melbourne had the largest population growth of any Australian city (95,500 people, at a growth rate of 2.2%), followed by Greater Sydney (81,000, at 1.7%) and Greater Perth (67,500, at 3.4%).
  • Places of State Strategic Significance include the expanded central city, national employment clusters, metropolitan activity centres, transport gateways, state significant industrial precincts and health/education precincts. The Metropolitan Planning Authority, with local governments, will have direct involvement in the planning of these places.
  • Places of Local-significance include activity centres, neighbourhood centres, other industrial land and other urban renewal sites. Local governments are encouraged to plan and support local urban-renewal and transit-oriented development at these locations.
  • Melbourne is home to a number of world-ranked universities and leading educational and research institutions which are fundamental to the city’s ability to compete in a global economy, attract investment and provide the skills base for future growth in our knowledge-based industries. These learning centres are recognised as existing or emerging national employment clusters under the strategy.

Related Planning Reforms

  • In July 2013, two new Commercial Zones were introduced in Victoria, replacing the previous five Business Zones.  The Commercial 1 Zone (replacing Business 1, 2 and 5 Zones) provides for as-of-right retail and office, with all existing floorspace caps removed within Metropolitan Melbourne.
  • Within the new Commercial 2 Zone (replacing Business 3 and 4), small supermarkets (up to 1,800m2) are now also as-of-right, with the ability to seek approval for a larger retail centre in these locations subject to Council approval.  Other retail uses, including Restricted Retail (bulky goods/homemaker centres) and Trade Supplies are as-of-right uses within this new zone, with no floorspace restrictions.
  • Along with these changes, an amendment was made to the existing Industrial 3 Zone (essentially a buffer zone between residential areas and core industrial precincts) which allows an 1,800m2 supermarket, with 500m2 of associated specialty shops as a new as-of-right land use.

Planning zone reform to boost economic growth …

Monday, 01 July 2013 

Victoria’s economic competitiveness will be greatly boosted following one of the most significant state economic reforms through the approval of the reformed Commercial and Industrial planning zones.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy said the commercial and industrial zones will play a key role in lifting productivity, attracting new investment and generating job growth for Victoria.

“For Victoria to continue to be a business leader and an attractive place to invest we must have the right conditions in place to enable greater flexibility and growth opportunities for our commercial and business centres,” Mr Guy said.

“The reformed commercial and industrial zones respond to changing retail, commercial and housing markets by allowing for a wider range of uses to support productivity growth, jobs and business diversity.”

“Importantly, they position Victoria’s planning system as the best in Australia to incentivise for new employment growth.”

For further information regarding a Sydney perspective of Plan Melbourne, please contact Wayne Gersbach, NSW General Manager, MacroPlan on 02 9221 5211 or 0410 697 404.