Conditional planning permit issued for Windsor Hotel

THE CONTROVERSIAL Windsor Hotel development looks likely to proceed, with Planning Minister Justin Madden granting a conditional planning permit for the proposed $200 million refurbishment and redevelopment (on the 18th of March).

Mr Madden said he accepted the recommendation of the independent advisory committee to grant the permit. "The Advisory Committee found that in terms of the permissions required under the Melbourne Planning Scheme there was no reason why a permit should not be granted," Mr Madden said. "In fact it found that without the redevelopment the hotel would only decline and that the expanded hotel required at least 300 rooms to make the refurbishment economically viable."

The restoration and redevelopment would make the Windsor Hotel a 5-star, 332 room hotel and there are four major elements to the proposal:

  • Written by Urbanalyst
  • Category: Victoria

Public transport use results in higher activity: report

BUS Association Victoria (BusVic) research has found that people who use public transport in Melbourne get far more exercise compared to people who use private transport, such as cars, motorbikes and taxis.

Analysing data from the Victorian Integrated Survey of Travel and Activity (VISTA), BusVic found that people who used public transport on a particular day spent an average of 41 minutes walking and/or cycling as part of their travel. This is over five times more physical activity than those who use only private transport, who on average spend 8 minutes walking or cycling as part of their travel.

In a breakdown of the results, BusVic found that:

  • People who used public transport for some of their journey averaged 41 minutes of walking and/or cycling;
  • People who used public transport for their whole journey averaged 47 minutes of walking and/or cycling;
  • People who used private transport (cars, taxis and/or motorbikes) for their whole journey averaged 8 minutes of walking and/or cycling; and
  • The overall Melbourne average was 15 minutes of walking and/or cycling as part of a travel journey.
  • Written by Urbanalyst
  • Category: Victoria

NSW Government fast-tracks transport plan

THE NSW Government has issued 'critical infrastructure declarations' in order to begin implementation of some of the projects contained in the $50.2 billion Metropolitan Transport Plan. The critical infrastructure declarations, announced last week, include eight new train platforms for the Western Express and nearly 10 kilometres of light rail extensions.

Planning Minister Tony Kelly decided what was to be considered as 'critical infrastructure' and as a result, most of the major projects contained in the Metropolitan Transport Plan will be assessed by the Department of Planning. The government is also proposing to amend the Infrastructure State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) to streamline "smaller projects", such as commuter car parks and bus depots.

Under the critical infrastructure declaration, the NSW Government states that:

Victorian Integrated Housing Strategy released

WITH a multiplicity of aims and objectives, the Victorian Integrated Housing Strategy has been released this month, outlining a series of priorities across five strategic directions: 'home buyers', 'tenants in the private market', 'social housing', 'homeless Victorians' and 'better homes'.

To summarise, the strategy aims to deliver diverse and affordable housing options, significantly reduce homelessness, create an 'efficient and flexible' planning system, ensure a greater supply of affordable and social housing and achieve 'better designed homes'.

Major strategies of the report include:

  • To increase the supply of housing in existing urban areas by freeing up surplus government land;
  • New planning initiatives to ensure that the supply of housing keeps pace with population growth and demographic change
  • Initiatives to stimulate private sector investment in the rental market
  • Improved rights for tenants and better standards in rooming houses
  • A 10-year Victorian homelessness strategy and an emphasis on prevention and early intervention
  • Support for better housing design.
  • Written by Urbanalyst
  • Category: Victoria

Madden censured by Victorian Upper house

THE UPPER House of the Victorian Parliament yesterday passed a no-confidence motion against the Minister for Planning, Justin Madden. The no-confidence motion was a result of the accidentally released media strategy by Mr Madden's media adviser, which proposed a sham consultation process for the Windsor Hotel redevelopment. The motion was passed 19 votes for, 18 against.

It is the second time Mr Madden has been censured by Parliament and reportedly the first time in 100 years that a Victorian minister has been received two no-confidence motions by the Parliament. Mr Madden was censured last year for his involvement in the Brimbank Council saga.

Mr Madden has denied any involvement in the production of the document, calling it a "brainstorming document" made entirely by his media adviser.

Opposition MP David Davis told the Upper House that Mr Madden had damaged public confidence in the planning system. "He has allowed things to occur in his office which are unacceptable," he said.

A parliamentary inquiry into the Minister's handling of the Windsor Hotel project is due to commence today.

  • Written by Urbanalyst
  • Category: Victoria

Barangaroo development formalised by Lend Lease

LEND Lease last week announced that it has signed the project development agreement with the Barangaroo Delivery Authority (BDA). In the announcement last Friday, Lend Lease said it had reached a milestone on Stage 1 of Barangaroo, with the agreement formalising Lend Lease's contract with the BDA for the $6 billion development of the harbour front site.

Lend Lease said that detailed project development documentation has been completed since Lend Lease was announced as the preferred developer by the NSW Government in December 2009. Last month the BDA placed the Barangaroo master plan on public display. Lend Lease said it is expecting to submit the first of its planning applications within the next few months. Any changes to the current approved Barangaroo Concept Plan are subject to a formal planning approval process.

Mildura Planning Taskforce releases final report; Madden approves Mildura planning amendment

THE FINAL report of the Mildura Planning Taskforce has been released. The report emphasises the importance of agriculture, particularly horticulture and the associated manufacturing, packaging and processing of local produce, to the Mildura economy.

The purpose of the taskforce was to "identify the longer term strategic future of land used for irrigated horticultural in the Rural City of Mildura, including the MOIA ([the Mildura Older Irrigation Area] the older pump districts of Mildura, Merbein and Red Cliffs) and the NIA ([New Irrigated Area] the private diverters in Nangiloc, Colignan, Lake Cullulleraine and Lindsay Point)."

The taskforce aimed to address land use issues relating to farming and rural land uses, urban settlement, social issues and economic issues.

  • Written by Urbanalyst
  • Category: Victoria

New buses for Perth

THE WESTERN Australian Government this week announced it would replace half of Transperth bus fleet, with a plan to purchase of at least 650 buses over the next decade. The Government said its plans "represented a significant commitment to the future of the State's public transport network."

The Government said that in 2009, there were more than 73.9 million individual bus trips made on Transperth buses.

The replacement program will result in the oldest models being retired with new models. WA Premier Colin Barnett said the new buses are to have improved safety features, disability access and environmental friendliness. He also said the Government would consider Euro5 diesel systems, compressed natural gas vehicles and hybrid technology.

Transport Minister Simon O'Brien said the plan would also have positive flow-on effects to the local economy.

NSW Government approves Lord Howe Island LEP

THE NSW Government has approved Lord Howe Island's Local Environmental Plan (LEP), with Minister for Planning Tony Kelly saying the changes will continue to protect and maintain the exceptional world heritage values of the Lord Howe Island group.

The key elements of the changes allow for:

  • Erosion control works to be undertaken and approved by the board, protecting the island from severe storms;
  • Subdivision of land for public purposes, following development consent, to allow local infrastructure (such as a tsunami warning system) to be proposed;
  • Some minor land zoning changes after a public land analysis and community consultation; and
  • The island's current regional environmental plan (REP) to be changed to a local environmental plan (LEP).

Darling Harbour playground to be Sydney's biggest

WORK on a new 4,000 square metre playground at Darling Harbour has commenced, as part of the Darling Walk redevelopment project.

Approximately 28 million people visit Darling Harbour each year and Minister for Planning Tony Kelly said that the "new playground will be a great new attraction for Sydney and visiting families." The playground's feature will include a giant slide, flying fox, sand pit, rope bridge and water wheels, channels and water jets.

The existing playground at Darling Harbour closed on Monday. A temporary play area will be installed in May in front of the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre and the new playground is due to open next year.

The playground is part of a $500 million redevelopment of Darling Walk by the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and Lend Lease. It will include 56,000 square metres of commercial office space, a new retail precinct, 600-space public car park, community green and a children's theatre.

Mr Kelly said the redevelopment project has created 7,000 construction jobs and when complete, will bring around 5,000 new office workers to the precinct.

Government launches State of Australian Cities 2010

STATE of Australian Cities 2010 has been released by the Australian Government today. Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Anthony Albanese formally released the report today at the Queensland Media Club.

In his speech, Mr Albanese states that "given the Australian Government's primary role in economic policy, infrastructure provision and social welfare it is clear that a national framework can only be achieved by a national collaborative approach." He also states that "urban policy does not detract from this Government's recognition of regional and rural Australia."

  • Written by Urbanalyst
  • Category: Australia

Victoria's infrastructure needs improvement: Engineers Australia

THE ENGINEERS Australia 2010 Victorian Infrastructure Report Card was released on Wednesday, with the report indicating progress in some areas of Victoria's infrastructure over the past 5 years, but overall finds that the majority of infrastructure has not improved, or has gone backwards.

The 2010 report card reviewed infrastructure categories across energy, telecommunications, transport and water and assigned ratings within the scales of A – F (with A meaning very good and F inadequate).

Of the categories reviewed in the 2010 report, two get variations of a 'B' rating (good), 11 get variations of the 'C' rating (needing major changes), and 1 gets a 'D' (needing critical changes), said the report by Engineers Australia, which has 90,000 members and is a forum for the advancement of engineering.

'B' ratings were given to Airports (B) and Wastewater (B minus). The 'C' ratings cover Roads Overall (C plus), National Roads (C plus), State Roads (C plus) and Local Roads (C minus); Ports (C plus); Irrigation (C minus); Stormwater (C minus); Potable Water (C); Gas (C); Electricity (C minus) and Telecommunications (C). Rail was rated as a 'D'.

  • Written by Urbanalyst
  • Category: Victoria

Fortitude Valley and Milton set to grow

THE INNER city of Brisbane is set to grow, with Brisbane City Council approving draft neighbourhood plans for Fortitude Valley and Milton, which indicate increased building heights and population densities, according to the Courier Mail.

The council said the community wanted focused growth around transport and local centres and expects up to 22,000 more residents and 75,000 more workers in Fortitude Valley by 2031. Lord Mayor Campbell Newman said the plan responded to affordability concerns.

The draft indicates that building heights in Fortitude Valley could be up to 30-storeys. While Milton could see 20-storey developments close to the central business district and mass transport, with Park Road remaining an entertainment and retail hub.

Reference: Bruce McMahon, '30-storey towers for Valley, Milton as city plan approved', Courier Mail, 3 March 2010, <,1,26799113-952,00.html>.

  • Written by Urbanalyst
  • Category: Queensland

Committee for Sydney releases city competitiveness and benchmark report

A COMMITTEE for Sydney report released on Wednesday says governance in Sydney is a major obstacle to competitiveness and connectivity is not up to global city standards. Among its recommendations are ‘time-of-day’ road pricing, an integrated public transport ticketing system and improved metropolitan governance.

The report, titled 'Global Sydney: Challenges and Opportunities for a Competitive Global City', was prepared for The Committee for Sydney by SGS Economics and Planning. The study benchmarks Sydney against a number of global cities relating to "issues that are of concern to a successful global city from governance through infrastructure to lifestyle."

In the study, Sydney is compared against nine global cities, selected according to three criteria: "cities that define Sydney's global aspirations and standing" (London, Tokyo, New York); "cities that are direct competitors to Sydney" (Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai); and "cities that have similar urban characteristics and challenges to Sydney" (Vancouver, San Francisco, Los Angeles).

Building approvals decrease in January

FOLLOWING four months of rises, the seasonally adjusted estimate for total dwellings approved fell by 7.0 per cent in January, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics data released yesterday.

A total of 14,045 dwelling units were approved in January. The seasonally adjusted estimate for private sector houses approved rose 0.3 per cent to 9,630 but approval for private sector other dwellings (apartments and semi-detached houses) fell by 29.1 per cent (to 2,880).

Last month, Tasmania and Victoria lead the country in terms of building approval increases. This month, however, Tasmania and Victoria had the largest decreases, with seasonally adjusted total dwelling approvals falling by 27 per cent and 15.9 per cent respectively. Queensland (-7.4%) also recorded a decrease in approvals. New South Wales (+3.5%), South Australia (+22.2%) and Western Australia (2.9%) achieved gains in the number of total dwelling units approved.

  • Written by Urbanalyst
  • Category: Australia

RBA lifts rates to 4.0 per cent

THE RESERVE Bank of Australia yesterday decided to raise the cash rate by 25 basis points, from 3.75 per cent to 4 per cent, effective today, Wednesday 3 March.

In his statement, RBA Governor Glenn Stevens said "the global economy is growing, and world GDP is expected to rise at close to trend pace in 2010 and 2011." Mr Stevens said that whilst global financial markets are functioning much better than they were a year ago, credit conditions remain difficult in some major countries.

  • Written by Urbanalyst
  • Category: Australia

Planning Minister planned Windsor Hotel sham?

THE VICTORIAN Government has been embarrassed by the accidental email release of a secret strategy to the ABC, reportedly containing a document entitled 'Minister for Planning Justin Madden Media Plan'. The document, written by a member of Mr Madden's staff, includes a strategy for rejecting the planned redevelopment of Melbourne's heritage-listed Windsor Hotel.

The email states that the Windsor Advisory Committee is expected to recommend that the government approve the proposed $260 million Windows Hotel redevelopment. The email says that the strategy is "to release it [the committee's report] for public comment, as this affects the entire community, and then use those responses as reason to halt it, as we have listened to community views."

The sham consultation process has damaged the Planning Minister, with the Opposition demanding an inquiry on planning. It comes at a difficult time for the Minister. Last week, the Growth Areas Infrastructure Contribution Bill was defeated by parliament, effectively rendering useless Melbourne's metropolitan plan, Melbourne @ 5 Million.

  • Written by Urbanalyst
  • Category: Victoria

Road to Melbourne Airport to "grind to a halt"

"TRAFFIC could grind to a halt on the freeway to Melbourne Airport in the next two decades unless dramatic action is taken," according to a study commissioned by the Victorian government and reported by The Age yesterday.

However, Public Transport Minister Martin Pakula has said the government will not consider a rail line to the airport, originally promised by the Labor government in 1999.

According to The Age, the report, the Melbourne Airport Transport Requirements Study, was completed over the past nine months by consultants IMIS and predicts that traffic to the airport will "slow to a crawl by 2021 unless major changes are made."

  • Written by Urbanalyst
  • Category: Victoria

South Morang rail extension one step closer

THE SOUTH Morang Rail Extension moved ahead this week with Public Transport Minister Martin Pakula yesterday turning the first sod for the early works in the Epping rail corridor.

Construction of the second track between Keon Park and Epping is expected to begin later this year.

The South Morang Rail Extension involves the duplication of a single track between Keon Park and Epping and the construction of 3.5 kilometres of new double track from Epping to South Morang. The new South Morang station will have parking for 500 cars, taxi rank, safe drop off area and feature integration with local bus routes.

Originally forecast to cost over $562 million, Member for Thomastown Peter Batchelor MP said the cost of the extension is $650 million.

  • Written by Urbanalyst
  • Category: Victoria

Vic Government refuses Port Fairy coastal development based on climate change impacts

A PROPOSED residential development on the Port Fairy coastline has been refused by the Victorian Government in order to protect Victoria's coastline and to prevent inappropriate development on land that is at risk from erosion and climate change impacts.

Planning Minister Justin Madden and Environment and Climate Change Minister Gavin Jennings last week announced the refusal to grant a planning permit for residential development at East Beach, Port Fairy, 300 kilometres west of Melbourne and located within Moyne Shire Council.

The Mayor of Moyne Shire, James Purcell, said the subject land had two issues. "One is that it backs onto an area which is the Moyne River, which could be subject to flooding, and also on the other side of it is actually the ocean which could be subject to inundation," Mr Purcell said.

  • Written by Urbanalyst
  • Category: Victoria

NSW Local Development Performance Monitoring Report released

OVER 71,000 development applications (DAs) were determined by NSW Councils for 2008-09, down from over 82,000 DAs for the previous 2007-08 period, according to the Local Development Performance Monitoring Report released by the NSW Government last month. In total, there were 80,832 local development determinations (DAs and complying development) reported for 2008-09, a decline of 13% compared with 2007-08, highlighting the effects of the downturn in the global economy.

A total of $18.5 billion worth of development applications were approved under the NSW local development assessment system, compared to $21 billion in 2007-08.

Wollongong Local Environmental Plan 2009 approved

WOLLONGONG'S Local Environmental Plan (LEP) 2009 was approved by the NSW Minister for Planning Tony Kelly last week and will now apply to all development proposals in Wollongong lodged from 26 February 2010.

The 2009 LEP replaces the previous 1990 LEP. Member for Wollongong, Noreen Hay, said that a "contemporary planning framework is a key ingredient to ensure necessary growth occurs in a sustainable manner."

The NSW Government stated that under the plan:

  • Approximately 130 hectares of land has been zoned for industrial, tourism and business purposes at the former power station site at Tallawarra;
  • The regional strategy housing targets will be delivered by zoning the Bulli Brickworks site to allow for around 450 residential dwellings, as well as a further 700 dwellings at Tallawarra;
  • Valuable natural environments and waterways have been protected in accordance with the Illawarra Escarpment Strategic Management Plan – endorsed by the former Minister – and with Council's Illawarra Escarpment Land Use Review Strategy.

Cost of Sydney CBD Metro: $330m; Result: axed

THE axed CBD Metro project has cost NSW taxpayers $330 million and resulted in the loss of approximately 350 jobs, the Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday. This includes engineers, designers and planners who provided their services, as well as 63 staff employed by the now redundant Sydney Metro Authority.

The Australian Constructors Association (ACA) earlier this week called for the NSW Government to make a public commitment to reimburse 100 per cent of tender costs for those consortia that bid for the Sydney Metro project. Executive Director of the ACA, Jim Barrett, argued that whilst "ACA members accept the need to invest significant resources in bidding processes, there is no case for the industry to bear such costs when a client decides at the eleventh hour that it does not wish to proceed."

Small businesses around the sites of planned metro stations are also seeking compensation.

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