Over the coming years, the Victorian industry will face a serious challenge in successfully managing Melbourne’s growth.
With density levels expected to rise exponentially over the next 40 years, the government has joined industry forces in hopes of implementing an urban planning framework that promises to cater to the living and working needs of the growing population.
Planning Minister Matthew Guy has released the Growth Corridor plans, which includes six new Precinct Structure Plans; with new communities to be developed in Diggers Rest, Lockerbie, Lockerbie North, Manor Lakes, Merrifield West and Rockbank North.
These communities are expected to cater to tens of thousands residents over a 30-year timespan, with the Lockerbie area alone projected to support a community of almost 30,000.
While many in the industry are welcoming these growth management plans, the necessary evil of urban sprawl stands as the only bittersweet element moving forward.
The development of the six new large-scale communities will mean that further reliance will be placed on highways and car use, with already built infrastructure disconnected from the sites.
The Committee for Melbourne has praised the government for their strategic thinking, but warns that the plans will be costly and will promote urban sprawl as the new precincts do not rely on or connect to any existing community infrastructure.
“New developments can be a very expensive way to accommodate population growth,” says Committee for Melbourne CEO Andrew MacLeod. “The greater the urban sprawl, the greater the decrease in density. This is economically, environmentally and socially unsustainable.”
With the major push for sustainable communities this week due to the release of the Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Star – Communities rating tool and the Property Council of Australia’s Sustainable Development Conference, the projected exacerbation of urban sprawl seems at odds with the current industry agenda.
However, a general lack of strong criticism suggests the industry has confidence in the government’s commitment to catering to growth. There is little doubt that even though these developments will be new builds, their strategic planning and execution will need to be sustainable in order to function to their potential and be feasible under the imminent carbon tax.