In March this year, the Victorian Government announced
its intention to update Plan Melbourne (2014) – the strategic
planning vision for Melbourne's growth to the year 2050. This
update is known as the Plan Melbourne refresh. Last week the
Discussion Paper was released, marking the beginning of the
consultation process. While the majority of Plan Melbourne will be
retained in the refresh, the Discussion Paper demonstrates the
Government's interest in implementing some key policy changes
with a particular emphasis on its preferred major infrastructure
projects, climate change and energy efficiency, housing
affordability and density, and transport priorities.
The Discussion Paper is informed by the 2015 Ministerial
Advisory Committee Report (MAC Report) which can
be found here. Key recommendations of the MAC Report considered in the
Discussion Paper include:
confirming that the existing urban growth
boundary should be 'locked down'.
better defining the concept of '20-minute
neighbourhoods'. One of the MAC's major criticisms
of Plan Melbourne (2014) was that it watered down the
'20-minute neighbourhood' concept and many of its
components were lost. It can be expected that this concept will be
more robustly articulated in the Plan Melbourne refresh. At its
heart is the idea of a polycentric city, with less of an emphasis
on any one central area such as the Melbourne CBD. Higher housing
densities will be encouraged close to neighbourhood centres.
increasing housing density and diversity in
strategic locations, particularly in established areas. The supply
of new housing should be shifted from a focus on greenfield growth
areas in Plan Melbourne (2014) to a 70/30 split where 70 per cent
of Melbourne's new housing supply should be in established
areas. This may entail the government exercising greater control
over the release of greenfield land, and introducing planning
reforms encouraging new housing in established areas.
reviewing the target to apply the Neighbourhood Residential
Zone to at least 50 per cent of residential land should be reviewed
– either by scaling back the target, or using it as a
investigating planning scheme mechanisms to support
greyfield renewal (ie aging or undercapitalised
areas of the inner or middle suburbs).
investigating a range of mechanisms to increase the stock of
affordable and social housing, including the
consideration of incentive schemes, mandatory requirements, and
expedited approvals processes.
supporting renewable energy through precinct scale
investigating whether new zones are needed for
National Employment Clusters and urban renewal areas, or whether
existing zones are sufficient.
updating the designation of some activity
evaluating the merits of code assessment for multi-unit
development to either replace ResCode with a codified
process for multi-unit development, or identify ResCode
standards that can be codified. This would require striking the
right balance between the certainty brought about by a codified
process, and the discretion achieved under the current regime.
protecting strategic agricultural land from
urban and residential encroachment through planning mechanisms such
as the application of overlays, zones, particular provisions or
codes of practice.
removing the concept of the 'Integrated Economic
Triangle'. The Plan Melbourne refresh will instead
reflect the Victorian Government's new infrastructure
priorities such as the Melbourne Metro Rail Project, the Cranbourne
Pakenham Rail Upgrade, the Mernda Rail extension, the West Gate
Distributor, and improvements to the cycling, bus and tram
Public consultation with stakeholders, industry and community
based on the issues raised in the Discussion Paper commenced on 22
October 2015. A series of consultation forums with representatives
of industry, peak bodies and community groups will take place.
Attendance will be by invitation, however all interested
organisations and individuals may make submissions through the
online consultation process. Submissions can be made here and are open until Friday 18 December
Based on these submissions, a Draft Plan will be released for
submissions, and a Final Plan is expected to be released by
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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