VICTORIAN Planning Minister Matthew Guy last week released the Logical Inclusions Advisory Committee report, paving the way for Melbourne's Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) to be enlarged by a further 6,000 hectares.
Mr Guy said the thorough investigation of Melbourne's UGB will help to ensure Victoria has the best-planned and most competitive land supply in Australia and provide opportunities for Melbourne's economic and social future.
"The completion of this review will lead to urban growth boundary modifications to ensure adequate long-term land supply and enable planning for population growth to be completed well ahead of time," Mr Guy said.
"This is the most thorough and transparent review the state of Victoria has ever undertaken for metropolitan boundary changes. The entire process has had the oversight of an independent probity auditor."
The Minister said submissions to the review from councils and landowners underwent a comprehensive planning assessment and review process, adding that extensive community consultation and robust probity were also features of the review.
"The inclusion of 5,958 hectares in the Urban Growth Boundary has been supported by the relevant councils, the Growth Areas Authority (GAA), an independent Advisory Committee and the State Government," Mr Guy said.
"Also in contrast to the previous government's approach, the review is bringing in significantly less than the 43,000 hectares included in 2010, and doing so in a far more transparent process," Mr Guy said.
The former Labor Government enlarged the UGB by 43,600 hectares in late 2010. At the time, then Planning Minister Justin Madden said the change would "be the last significant shift of the boundary our generation will see."
The Coalition Government signalled its intention to review logical inclusions within the UGB in the lead-up to the 2010 State Election.
In October 2011, the GAA conducted its review by assessing submissions and consulting with landowners, government agencies and councils. The independent Logical Inclusions Advisory Committee then reviewed, considered and made recommendations for each area.
Mr Guy thanked Kathy Mitchell for chairing the committee and Lester Townsend, Brett Davis, Rodger Eade, Jodi Kennedy, David Mitchell and William O'Neil for their analysis, insight and advice to the government.
Inclusions in the metropolitan boundary include Wallan township in Mitchell Shire; land in Greenvale and Mickleham in the City of Hume; Brookfield, Kurunjang and Melton West in the Shire of Melton; Point Cook and Werribee in the City of Wyndham; land in Cranbourne South in the City of Casey; an area east of Pakenham in Cardinia Shire; and a small parcel in South Morang in the City of Whittlesea. All areas for inclusion were supported by the relevant local council.
Amendments to the Cardinia, Casey, Hume, Melton, Mitchell, Whittlesea and Wyndham planning schemes will need to be made to include the areas within the boundary. The land will then be subject to a broad corridor planning process conducted by the GAA together with key stakeholders.
Committee for Melbourne expressed disappointment in the government's intention to extend the growth boundary, saying development should occur within the UGB to enable better use of existing resources and infrastructure.
"We cannot keep pushing the UGB to accommodate population growth. Melbourne's outer suburbs already have inadequate access to infrastructure and decreasing density in this way will only exacerbate the problem. There's not much point in building new train stations in these areas if train services cannot be increased," said the Committee's Acting Chief Executive Officer, Andrea Gaffney.
"Any plans for new suburbs in Melbourne should be balanced with a strategy to encourage development within our existing suburbs, and further supported by an integrated transport plan to ease congestion on our roads," said Ms Gaffney.
"The Committee believes revitalising Melbourne's existing suburbs with a greater density mix is a smarter way of meeting Melbourne's future growth needs. The infrastructure is already in place. It makes sense to look at opportunities to expand or enhance this infrastructure so that all Melburnians can benefit."
The Logical Inclusions Advisory Committee report is available from the Department of Planning and Community Development website at <http://www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/>.