Committee Communiqué

Melbourne Beyond 2050

Today, in conjunction with cohosts the University of Victoria and The Age, the Committee will open ‘Melbourne Beyond 2050’, a two day conference that will focus on discussing the question of how as a city, we will cope with a population of 8 million people. Urban development and optimisation has always been a key pillar of the Committee’s agenda and as we confront the difficulties associated with providing jobs, housing, transport and social support services for Australia’s most rapidly growing city, it is crucial we look to the future with a clear plan in mind. In recent decades, we have tended to grow outward in order to cope with our growing population and increasing inner city house prices. However, this brings with it a very real danger of social divide as those in newer developments along the outer fringe lack the access to welldeveloped services found in established inner city areas. The lack of jobs growth in outer areas, along with poor public transport access also means those living in these areas often find it difficult to commute between their homes and their places of work. Will Melbourne become Australia’s biggest city by the middle of this century? Whether or not we want it to is not the issue, it is more a case of whether or not we put into place the visionary plans and associated development required to allow it to.

Better apartments

In response to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s call for contributions to shape Victoria’s apartment design, the Committee worked with members to prepare a submission that has been presented to both the Department and the Minister’s office directly. Key focal points in the submission were the value in adapting some of the specific design regulations already in use in Victoria, as well as the relevant guidelines already in existence elsewhere, such as SEPP 65 used in New South Wales. The use of design review panels which include experts in various disciplines that development projects require to both better assess individual design solutions and to relieve the workload of council staff was also raised. The need to more clearly define what constitutes ‘apartment living’ and to take into consideration the fact that the requirements for different types of developments – a building up to five levels versus a building over ten storeys – do vary considerably, was also highlighted. Better apartments: Committee for Melbourne submission

Melbourne CBD highest wages in the State

The recently released State of Australian Cities 2014-15 report has confirmed what we would all notionally expect – that the highest wage earning precincts in Victoria are in the CBD and Southbank areas. From an economic perspective, the report places a strong emphasis on ensuring that these relatively small, but very highperforming central business districts remain unconstrained, efficient and productive because they are so vital to each state and the national economy. According to the report, even minor inefficiencies in these areas of dense economic activity can have a major economic impact. Conversely, remedying those inefficiencies can reap substantive economic benefits. The question is, how do we drive greater efficiency and productivity? The Committee is currently undertaking a piece of work to identify those sectors in which we have natural advantages that we can leverage, and more importantly, to understand how we can work those levers to our collective advantage. Obviously, if we can improve efficiencies in these areas to generate stronger economic returns, we can build a stronger central core which will allow us to spread our wealth more widely allowing the whole state to benefit.

Werribee – Australian Education City

An innovative proposal for a hightech education city to be developed in Werribee has been presented as an option for 775 hectares of land the Andrews Government is selling. The Australian Education City (AEC) concept is an Australian owned and managed company formed with the express purpose of creating knowledge and learning precincts in Australia. Their aim is to build on Australia’s higher education and research strengths by adding world-leading Smart City technologies and global capital, and the Werribee precinct has been identified by AEC as a highly developable site. The government’s aim is to create 58,000 new jobs and 7,000 new homes on the site, however the AEC plan goes well beyond this basic concept envisioning a hitech city founded on links between world-class education and innovative new industries. The concept is bold, and its vision for a new approach to the future makes it well worth looking at. As always however, the real measure of success will lie in how well a sense of community can be created in this area, and how well-connected and serviced it will be by the infrastructure required to make it all work seamlessly.

Tunnels under the Yarra the answer

As the Andrews Government presses on with plans for the build of the Melbourne Metro train project, yesterday they announced that tunneling will be the preferred method for crossing under the Yarra. Long considered to be one of the more difficult elements of the project to solve, it has been announced tunnel boring machines similar to those used to build the London CrossRail and New York Second Avenue Subway projects will be used to build the tunnels that will link the north and south riverbanks. These machines will tunnel eleven metres below the river (around seven metres below the riverbed itself), and have been chosen because they are considered to be less disruptive than other methods which would require either damming the river or dredging the river bed. While the specific details of the tunneling process will be left for the successful tenderer to determine, yesterday’s announcement reiterates the Andrews Government’s determination to finally get this muchneeded city shaping infrastructure project underway

Fortnightly eNewsletter

Get the latest independent opinions and news from Committee for Melbourne.