09.03.2023Liveability & Urban Optimisation: The Melbourne Summit breakout session

On March 2nd, the Committee along with JLL were proud to launch the Benchmarking Melbourne 2023 report at The Melbourne Summit 2023. The report, produced by The Business of Cities, benchmarks Melbourne amongst a group of 20 global peer cities. The report highlights the wonderful strengths of Melbourne in relation to Liveability & Urban Optimisation, such as the vibrant arts and culture offering, fairness and strong reputation.

This report is the second report, and again the theme of a ‘Tale of two cities’ is well established in the data, with a difference in people’s experience of Melbourne depending on where they live and work. For example, Melbourne is 4th out of nine North American and Australian cities for city centre walkability, but 8th out of nine when looking across the whole city. There are differences in accessibility to public transport and amenities as well as transport commute times. The density of the population also differs, with Melbourne placing 6th among peers for city centre population, but 16th for population density as a metropolis. Considering how planning frameworks could ensure strategic densification of the population to allow for access to amenities and liveability options will be of particular focus for the Committee.


Experience Economy: 

Ranking 4th out of 20 peers, Melbourne’s experience economy continues to be a world-leader, with offerings across fashion, food, events, sport and theatre amongst many others. Some of the encouraging statistics include that Melbourne is the 10th most recognised sporting city globally up from 20th in 2020. Fitzroy Gardens is the 37th most retweeted park in the World. However, continuing to support these great offerings, whilst ensuring that all Melburnians are able to experience and access the great arts & culture and experience options, including those in the CBD, will continue to be a focus of the Committee’s work.


Inclusivity and Wellbeing:

Ranking 2nd out of 20 for inclusivity and wellbeing, up from 7th in last year’s report, Melbourne has continued to demonstrate its friendliness, openness and team spirit. Melbourne is considered the world’s friendliest city with 72 per cent of expats thinking locals are friendly compared to 66 per cent globally. But with the 5th most unaffordable housing market in the world, and rising cost pressures affecting many households, there is plenty of room to support Melburnians. As Melbourne is predicted to be the largest city in Australia by 2031, it is crucial to maintain inclusivity and cohesion among visitors, residents, the city, the suburbs, and people from different income levels.


Image and Influence: 

Ranking 8th for image and influence, Melbourne’s attractiveness as a destination to visit, live and work is rated highly. Indeed, Melbourne is 22nd globally for search interest in moving to the city for work. However, whilst Melbourne ranks in the top 15% for social media hashtags, it ranks outside of the top 30 for online traction and is often viewed as an underrated city. This suggests that certain elements of the city are not known or understood. Melbourne’s status as a place for investment, research and innovation for example, could be added to the brand conversation along with sports, arts & culture. A strategic brand discussion could be very important for Melbourne’s future.

Collection of three images of the speakers in the Liveability & Urban Optimisation breakout session at The Melbourne Summit 2023

The insights from the Benchmarking Melbourne 2023 report, underpinned a very lively breakout room discussion at The Melbourne Summit on 2 March, relating to the Liveability & Urban Optimisation pillar. We were very fortunate to be joined by Matthew Cleary, Regional Director at Urbis, who gave an insightful keynote speech about urban optimisation and densification. He showed that strategic densification in inner suburbs of Melbourne around transport routes could have benefits to the community in terms of access to public transport options and amenities like hospitals, schools and public spaces. He also discussed how planning and governance frameworks might need to be considered, to ensure that greater collaboration and accountability can be taken to accelerate densification plans.

Matt’s keynote was followed by a lively conversation amongst panellists Geoff Ward, Head of Strategic Projects – Development Victoria, Alison Leighton, Acting CEO – City of Melbourne, and Craig Taberner, CEO – Nursery and Garden Industry Victoria moderated by Leanne Edwards, Director Policy & Advocacy – Committee for Melbourne.

The panel discussion included various issues such as:

  • Governance arrangements for planning and collaboration networks.
  • The environmental and health benefits of green spaces.
  • Benefits of densifying in existing suburbs.
  • Arts and culture offerings across Greater Melbourne.
  • The Commonwealth Games roll out and the relationship between the infrastructure commitments in the regions and Greater Melbourne.

It is clear from the benchmarking data and the discussions at The Melbourne Summit, that considering greater urban densification, improving whole city connectivity, affordable housing offerings and creating a unified brand strategy for Melbourne are all important objectives for the future of Melbourne. We would also like to see a visitor centre developed for Federation Square. We look forward to working with our members and stakeholders as we progress the work under the Liveability & Urban Optimisation pillar and continue to make Melbourne an inclusive and welcoming place for everyone.

For further information on Committee for Melbourne’s policy agenda, contact Director of Policy and Advocacy, Leanne Edwards at ledwards@melbourne.org.au or Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer, Brett Van Duppen at bvanduppen@melbourne.org.au.

Read the other breakout session summaries here: Future Economy or Infrastructure and Sustainability

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