VICTORIAN Planning Minister Matthew Guy last week launched 'Melbourne, let's talk about the future', a discussion paper to inform the development of the new Metropolitan Planning Strategy and to seek further public consultation into the development of the strategy.
The Minister encouraged Victorians to have their say on metropolitan planning as part of the community consultation process and in order to develop a shared vision for greater Melbourne and Victoria.
"Melbourne is the world's most liveable city, but we won't remain that way through a business as usual approach. This is why the Victorian Coalition Government is reforming metropolitan planning and putting forward a long-term vision for our capital city," Mr Guy said.
Mr Guy said there must be significant community consultation as part of the development of the new metropolitan planning strategy, which will aim to guide the growth of Melbourne over the next forty years.
"The release of the first discussion paper will encourage Melburnians to again be a part of this process and will hopefully challenge the way we think about our state's capital city and how it will grow in the future," Mr Guy said.
The discussion paper, which was developed by the expert Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on Metropolitan Planning Strategy, canvasses a number of key issues that are expected to attract debate, including:
- Growing the central city as a 24-hour world city;
- Delivering jobs and services to our outer suburbs;
- Using our existing infrastructure more efficiently; and
- Consideration of a permanent boundary around parts of the metropolitan area.
Mr Guy said Melbourne has a history of integrated long-term planning, citing the creation of the Hoddle Grid over 150 years ago, but said it is time to "build on this foundation and engage with the community about how to shape a strategy that is visible, tangible and meets short, medium and long-term goals."
The Minister said the MAC has engaged in significant consultation with key stakeholders across the Melbourne metropolitan area in the lead up to the development of the discussion paper.
Chair of the MAC, Professor Roz Hansen, said the discussion paper is designed to generate debate and engage with the community on the future of metropolitan Melbourne and is the culmination of months of discussions and workshops with local councils, community groups and industry expert.
"The logical next step is to open discussion up to the community and this paper does exactly that," Professor Hansen said.
The discussion paper has been developed around nine strategic principles to encourage debate and generate discussion that will ultimately drive the development of a Metropolitan Planning Strategy.
"It will be important that the new metropolitan planning strategy has a clear implementation plan that can be delivered by this and successive governments," Professor Hansen said.
According to the government, the discussion paper aligns with its reform agenda, including the delivery of major infrastructure projects such as the East-West Link and Melbourne Metro, the proposed planning zone reforms and a more efficient planning system.
The strategy will take a long-term view of growth and change across Melbourne and its connectivity with regional Victoria, other Australian capital cities and globally.
However, My Guy said the new metropolitan strategy can only succeed if there is buy-in from all stakeholders, including the local community.
The Property Council of Australia welcomed the release of the discussion paper, with Victorian Executive Director, Jennifer Cunich, saying it raised many important issues about Melbourne's long term growth.
"The Paper's strong focus on Melbourne's planning system, unique character, employment base, transportation needs and interconnectivity will help drive an informed discussion about the difficult challenges facing our rapidly changing city", Ms Cunich said.
"With Melbourne's population forecast to potentially increase to 6.4 million people between now and 2050, it is vital that all previously held assumptions about Melbourne's future growth be reassessed."
Ms Cunich said the property sector was glad to see that the prospect of a depoliticised metropolitan planning authority has been raised for discussion, adding that the Property Council has been calling for the establishment of such a body since 2004.
"Victoria's antiquated planning system is in desperate need of an overhaul and a new planning authority which operates above local politics is exactly what the doctor ordered," Ms Cunich said.
Committee for Melbourne also welcomed the discussion paper and urged all Melburnians to have their say on the city's growth and development.
Committee for Melbourne CEO Kate Roffey said the Committee has been calling for a long-term visionary plan for Melbourne for some time.
"As part of the Committee's Melbourne Beyond 5 Million report series, the Committee raised the concept of developing a strategically-focused blue print for the future that will help ensure we achieve our aim of making Melbourne better as it gets bigger," Ms Roffey said.
"We all have an opportunity to have a say in our plan for Melbourne's growth, and we should be keen to take some responsibility for creating our own destiny.
"The release of the MPS Discussion Paper has been long anticipated and we hope to see a range of challenges identified, and some potential solutions posed to a range of issues, in particular, areas pertaining to funding and financing of infrastructure and protecting and strengthening Melbourne's employment zones," Ms Roffey said.
Ms Roffey also noted that implementation and execution will be critical to the strategy's success, adding that delivery of the plan will be critical and stressing that successive governments will need to have a unified vision for Melbourne.
Prior to the release of the discussion paper, Planning Institute of Australia Victorian President, Steve Dunn, said the paper opens up the critical community engagement phase to guide the strategic approach to the management of the growth of Melbourne for the next 40 years.
He called the release a major step forward in the government's process of developing "a much needed planning strategy for a great city".
Mr Dunn said he hoped the discussion paper reinforces the value and importance of long term planning for an economically prosperous and socially and environmentally sustainable future.
"Planning is important to the broader community for many reasons. The consequences of poor planning can be extreme. Planning affects every facet of our lives and is necessary for great places and strong communities," Mr Dunn said.