THE thrust of Plan Melbourne – released last week by the state government – is to coordinate population and housing growth with employment and transport planning on a state-wide basis.
And the strategy is “very positive’’ for the Mornington Peninsula, according to mayor Antonella Celi.
Its local focus is on commitment to a permanent urban growth boundary, development of the Port of Hastings, support for protection of high-quality agricultural land and ensuring the environmental qualities of Western Port and Port Phillip are protected.
“Our residents love the peninsula as it is, they support appropriate development and new opportunities, particularly for young people, but they want to ensure the special look, feel and function of the Peninsula – the things that make us different from suburban Melbourne – are well protected, ‘’ she said.
Plan Melbourne’s premise is that Melbourne has grown rapidly over the past decade, and by 2051 it is estimated a population of 7.7 million will require around 1.6 million extra houses.
It will be an ageing cohort, too, meaning future housing supply will need to take into account the changing needs of households for different types of accommodation over a lifetime.
Even with a 30-year supply of urban-zoned land on Melbourne’s fringes, the plan says this is no longer sustainable to accommodate most of our growth by expanding outwards. ‘’We will partly accommodate future growth with medium- and high-density development in defined areas in the existing urban area in designated urban-renewal precincts,’’ the plan says.
Later, more housing will be built closer to jobs, transport and services through the zoning system and other mechanisms.
The plan says housing affordability varies significantly across Melbourne and growth in house prices has outpaced the growth in incomes. “Our plan is to encourage greater diversity in housing types and access to more affordable housing options.’’
Transport is the key as it underpins the liveability, efficiency and productivity of cities.
‘’The key transport challenges for Melbourne are to ensure sufficient commuter capacity on public transport and road systems, and to ensure that Victoria maintains its competitive advantage in freight and logistics.’’
The plan says a growing Melbourne will need to be able to provide an extra 10.7 million daily public transport trips by 2050 on top of the 14.2 million trips today. This means adding critical links to the network, getting greater efficiency out of existing infrastructure and increasing reliance on public transport.
City-shaping transport projects such as the East West Link, the Melbourne Rail Link (including the Airport Rail Link), CityLink-Tulla widening – and the development of the Port of Hastings – are expected to transform the efficiency and capacity of the network.
The plan also includes major new programs of investment in road efficiency, expanded public transport services and improved cycling and walking paths.
Cr Celi said that while the Peninsula faces “its own unique challenges’’, the plan provides the opportunity to “shape future planning for the Peninsula in a way that responds to the issues and values that came out most strongly in the council’s Plan Peninsula consultations with the community held last year”.
She said the shire had “worked closely with local communities in informing the government about our future aspirations’’.
“There is a firm commitment to the introduction of the Mornington Peninsula Planning Statement that recognises the distinct role and importance of the Peninsula to the whole of Melbourne,’’ she said.
The council has already approved the draft Planning Statement, which Cr Celi said ‘’expresses our community’s vision of the Peninsula being ‘near to, but not part of, Melbourne and its accelerating growth’, as reflected by community input during the council’s Plan Peninsula consultation program’’.
“The Peninsula plays a range of complementary roles in tourism, recreation, agriculture and manufacturing, but our community is clear that we are not ‘suburbia’, and don’t want to be. The council’s input into Plan Melbourne reflects what the community told us.’’
Plan Melbourne also emphasises the primary role of local government in planning for local areas, including neighbourhood centres and major activity centres on the peninsula.
The ‘new’ Plan Melbourne points out that Melbourne’s projected population growth is 4.3 million to 7.7 million by 2051 – rather than the 6.5 million in the earlier version. This, in turn, has increased the projected demand for housing to more than 1.6 million new dwellings over the next 37 years.
It aims to see more of Melbourne’s future housing growth in, or near, existing areas of high job concentrations and/or future employment potential. These National Employment Clusters include Dandenong, and metropolitan activity centres, including Frankston.
“Plan Melbourne is consistent with this position, and therefore this is a policy statement we can well support,” Cr Celi said.