Victoria Set to Become 'State of Cities'

Sourceable Industry News & Analysis

Victoria is set to become a ‘state of cities’ over the next four decades as large increases in population drive demand for housing and commercial property not just in the city but also in towns surrounding the Melbourne Metropolitan area, according to a planning and transport blueprint which the government says will shape how Melbournians live and work over the next forty years.

Unveiling  Plan Melbourne on Wednesday, Victorian State Premier Denise Napthine and Planning Minister Mathew Guy announced that towns such as Bacchus Marsh, Ballan, Broadford, Kilmore, Warragul-Drouin and Wonthaggi have been designated as new major population and employment towns for growth.

The plans also involves:

  • a permanent boundary limiting the Melbourne Metropolitan area’s urban sprawl
  • Protection of at least half of Melbourne’s residential zoned land from high-rise developments through a neighbourhood residential zone
  • Driving growth in the city as urban renewal precincts such as Fishermans Bend, E-Gate and Arden Macaulay begin and Docklands is completed
  • Creation of a new Metropolitan Planning Authority to manage and deliver the plan
  • Investigating the possibility of a third airport to serve Gippsland and Melbourne’s South-East between Koo Wee Rup and Lang Lang.

Under the government’s plan, growth would be supported by a range on infrastructure projects including the East West Link, the Melbourne Metro Rail project and the North-East link connecting the Metropolitan Ring Road with EastLink.

Guy says regional towns are a key to managing challenges associated with a rising population, and that improving transport and communication links were increasingly enabling working age people to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by regional communities from a lifestyle perspective.

“With Victoria’s population projected to rise to 8.4 million by 2050, regional cities and towns are well-placed to take a greater share of population growth” Guy said. “A key initiative of Plan Melbourne is to unlock the growth potential of these cities – so they can accommodate a greater proportion of the state’s future growth – and provide good transport connections between them and Melbourne. This will create a ‘State of Cities’ where there are greater choices for people about where to live, work or start a business.”

The release of the strategy follows the approval of plans for a new suburb set to be called East Werribee which will act as a commercial, residential and employment centre in Melbourne’s west.

Industry groups and many other lobby groups welcomed the plan, Municipal Association of Victoria president Bill Macarthur saying the permanent growth boundary would encourage greater development in regional cities and towns and RACV acting general manager of public policy Thanuja Gunatillake saying the strategy offered an opportunity to end decades of under investment in transport.

But deputy opposition leader James Merlino says the plan would mean ‘more high-rises, more people and more cars’ but no public transport or infrastructure and would bring gridlock and congestion to the city.