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What should we do about Melbourne?

Bike-O-Meter. Real time usage of bike hire schemes across world cities

I’ve been thinking for some time that I should set down what I see as the key high-level actions that need to be taken to ensure Melbourne can remain liveable well into the future. Given that the State election is about six weeks away, this seems like a good time.

I’m only going to look at the supply side. I’ll leave the topic of demand for another day. For the moment, I’ll assume that Melbourne really will grow to 7 million around 2050.

The actions I propose are not confined to the predominantly physical measures we’re used to seeing in traditional strategic plans like Melbourne 2030 and Melbourne @ 5 Million. Cities can’t be managed effectively without taking a holistic view  - that’s because many of the apparent “planning” problems have deeper causes.

I start with the same overall goals as plans like Melbourne 2030 espouse – greater environment sustainability, equity and economic efficiency – but the route I propose for getting there is very different and, I think, much more likely to work.

I’m more concerned here with getting the policy right than I am with short-term political feasibility, so I don’t expect either side is going to pick up these ideas and run with them in the election. That’ll take time.

So, the key high-level actions I propose are:

  • First, the top priority is to convert power generation to low carbon sources. Electricity emits more than four times as much carbon as the passenger transport sector. Doing this opens up the possibility of sustainable forms of mobility like electric cars. It increases the political feasibility of addressing climate change by giving people greater scope to maintain their standard of living
  • Second, the speed of change toward more fuel and emissions efficient cars and trucks needs to be accelerated. The international auto industry is betting on electric cars and hybrids, but there are other options like compressed gas and more efficient petrol and diesel cars. It seems unlikely that a carbon price will be high enough by itself to effect change on a sufficient scale
  • Third, travel needs to be priced so that cars pay their full social costs, particularly at peak times when lower value trips crowd out higher value travel. Some trips will be eliminated entirely by pricing – we should not be shy about accepting this
  • Fourth, cars and trucks need to go slower and be quieter. Streets need to be attractive to pedestrians, cyclists and scooters. Non-local traffic should be confined to the principal road network. It’s possible we might need to build some new roads to get traffic out of areas with high human activity levels
  • Fifth, the public transport system needs to be improved. The focus should not be on competition with the car but rather on serving the natural markets of public transport i.e. those without a car and travel to high density locations like activity centres
  • Sixth, the key priority in public transport should be on enhancing connectivity and frequency. Some new rail lines with system wide benefits like the Melbourne Metro are necessary, but the main focus should be on more rolling stock and more buses. It is likely that buses will play a much larger role in Melbourne’s future
  • Seventh, there needs to be a shift from subsidising transit trips to subsidising people. All pricing should be on the basis of full cost recovery, otherwise public transport is likely to remain chronically underfunded. Subsidised fares should be provided to those that need them (via concession fares), rather than to all users as happens at present
  • Eighth, the supply of housing within established areas should be increased by expanding the range of locations where modest densities (e.g. two storey townhouses) are permissible as-of-right. The current emphasis on “strategic locations” restricts supply and doesn’t directly provide an alternative for fringe settlers
  • Ninth, some households will continue to seek fringe locations. While I think the disadvantages of fringe living are exaggerated, densities in new developments need to increase. There also needs to be better urban design incorporating new urbanism principles. Traditional town planning concerns, like avoiding leapfrog development, need to be enforced
  • Tenth, the appropriateness of activity centres policy, particularly the six designated Central Activities Districts, needs to be subject to thorough reassessment. A logical and defensible set of centres that are attractive to business needs to be developed. Some centres like Clayton and Kew should be CADs – and retrofitted with supporting infrastructure where necessary – and some like Broadmeadows are questionable
  • Eleventh, a Liveable Suburbs policy that addresses issues like noise and traffic at the street and neighbourhood level through better regulation and enforcement needs to be developed and implemented. It  will support higher density suburban living

I haven’t addressed every issue here – some I’ve not looked at include water supply and sewage recycling, freight, governance and public participation – and nor have I gone into much detail. That’s because I’ve largely stuck with actions that I’ve previously discussed on these pages. I’ll expand my list and flesh it out over time, perhaps as the election campaign proceeds.

But what I think it all really points to is the need for a new and very different strategic plan for Melbourne – one that conceives of Melbourne as an interconnected social, economic and physical system.

P.S. direct link to Bike-O-Meter.

19

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  • 1
    Ian Woodcock
    Posted October 21, 2010 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    Interesting list. How would you address the equity issues associated with housing affordability?

    It’s unclear to me how it is that townhouse developments in established areas are constrained by current policy. Under ResCode, anything up to 9m is permissible almost anywhere – plenty of room for 2-storey housing. The only thing that might make it difficult is resident opposition in some areas. However, it seems that most opposition is to developments of 4 or more storeys, especially where developers are speculating on the significant uplift from height increases above local planning policies that can be obtained by prosecuting their projects at VCAT.

  • 2
    Joseph
    Posted October 21, 2010 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Agree with much of what you said, on item 7 though I wonder how feasible this is. You have written on a number of occasions about Skybus, I am a fairly regular user but for $26 for a 20 minute return journey I wouldn’t want to be paying it every day. It is also fairly well utilised, far more so than most of Melbourne’s buses. So if, say, $10 is the floor for cost of a fully funded bus trip would anyone use them? In response it might result in more car travel but shifted to off peak to avoid congestion charging. This may be the ‘right’ outcome but certainly radical.

  • 3
    Posted October 21, 2010 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    I develop this idea in more detail here. It is premised on cars also paying their full social cost.

    It would certainly be politically “difficult”! Given that CBD work trips constitute a very high proportion of all public transport travel, I think it makes sense to tax CBD employers to pay for some of the cost.

    It’s worth noting that Melburnites pay a small fortune to run a car. Even at $10 per trip you’d still be well ahead financially if you don’t have to own a car.

  • 4
    Posted October 21, 2010 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    The most affordable housing is on the fringe. Melbourne is fortunate that the fringe is reasonably close in the west (excluding Melton).

    It’s therefore important to provide public transport early to new developments and to design them carefully so that the need to buy a second car is lessened.

  • 5
    Moss
    Posted October 21, 2010 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Good list for starters Alan.

    I would add to that first item the realistic possibility of distributed energy systems which are significantly more efficient and low-carbon than centralised generators. Commercial options would include systems such as the small-scale gas to electricity fuel cells from our own Victorian company Ceramic Fuel Cells (with efficiencies of up to 85%, saving up to 33 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year over coal-fired generation!). Imagine if every new house/apartment was required to install one of these – with 88,000 homes built per year (as per 2009) that would be a yearly saving of nearly 3 million tonnes of CO2 per year. Over 10 years, if building activity remains constant, that would be a saving of over 150 million tonnes. And the feds want to blow 430 million on their cash for clunkers plan, to save a paltry 1million tonnes over 10 YEARS? Madness! The same amount of money to fully subsidise 40,000 of CFC’s fuel cells could provide savings of over 14 million tonnes over 10 years! Not to mention the benefits of more robust network, Victorian jobs etc etc…

  • 6
    Anne Beaumont
    Posted October 21, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    With regard to housing types I feel that it is important that within say a 3km radius there be a mix of housing types including free-standing single family dwellings, grouped townhouses, low-rise apartments and grouped single-story dwellings with small yards possibly with facility for ongoing care. This is based on my own perceived needs as I age. I am lucky enough to live in Williamstown which has excellent public transport, good range of retail, easy access to entertainment (sun @ Yarraville) and a mix of dwelling types. Now that I have lived there for 15 years I have a number of friends in the area & although it is good for walking, if I eventually need to move into some sort of shared accommodation I would like to be within reach of my friends and preferrably able to have a dog as a live-in companion.
    My mother-in-law in Vancouver was able to move into an apartment in the same area as her single-family dwelling so could continue with the same medical care, seniors group, etc. Selfish ‘not in my neighbourhood’ responses to suggestions to build apartments seem to come from single-family house owners who cannot see beyond their present age & life-style.

  • 7
    Moss
    Posted October 21, 2010 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    BTW, $430 million works out to about $30 per tonne of carbon. Not an unrealistic figure at all.

  • 8
    jack horner
    Posted October 22, 2010 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Point 7, pricing public transport for cost recovery:

    Yes, providing road transport is priced to account for external costs, and PT is priced to account for external benefits.

    A 2008 IPART study of Sydney bus and rail fares concluded that farebox cost recovery of Sydney buses (I believe it is about 50%) is about right, and of Cityrail (I believe it is about 30%) is a little lower than optimnal, in economic terms, taking account of external benefits (mainly avoided traffic congestion). (Review of Cityrail Fares 2009-2012).

  • 9
    Posted October 22, 2010 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    The external costs and benefits of all modes need to be taken into account in pricing.

    I’m a bit doubtful about how IPART has calculated the external benefits of rail. As I see it, commuters effectively don’t have the choice of driving to the CBD in Sydney, so why should “avoided congestion” be a benefit? (not of course that congestion actually is avoided!)

    Really, the benefit rail provides is delivering hundreds of thousands of workers to the CBD. So why should that cost be paid by taxpayers rather than the workers themselves or their employers?

  • 10
    jack horner
    Posted October 23, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Yes, my comment oversimplified by assuming that most road externalities are costs and most PT externalities are benefits.

    The logic of your second point is that PT should surcharge peak travel and particularly peak travel to the CBD (assuming high marginal cost of supplying peak service).

    Fair enough. With smartcards you should be able to tweak charges as much as you like, eg to surcharge peak period peak direction travel but not contrapeak travel.

    Need to consider possible detrimental side effects such as flight of development from CBD to more car dependent places.

    Where this is leading is that travel by all modes when and where they are congested (=high exterbnal costs) should cost more, which would hopefully encourage patterns of development which are more efficient transportwise.

  • 11
    Ian Woodcock
    Posted October 24, 2010 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    The most affordable to purchase, maybe. But what about rentals? And what about those who can’t afford market rent, want to be close to services, etc. without having to drive or ride a bus?

  • 12
    Ian Woodcock
    Posted October 24, 2010 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    But if the full cost of driving is incorporated, along with the provision of a high-quality PT service to low-density suburbs, will the fringe still be affordable, even for purchasers?

  • 13
    Posted October 24, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    @Ian Woodcock – “The most affordable to purchase, maybe. But what about rentals?”

    The rental payments on dwellings in Australian cities are usually lower than the repayments on a highly geared loan that would be required to purchase the same property.

  • 14
    Posted October 24, 2010 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    @Ian Woodcock – “But if the full cost of driving is incorporated…..will the fringe still be affordable, even for purchasers?”

    People make this choice all the time and many clearly decide that the higher cost of transport associated with a fringe location is worth it i.e. it provides benefits that exceed the costs.

  • 15
    Chris Curtis
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    I came across this blog recently when searching for information on Melbourne’s planning history, especially re the green wedges and development corridors proposed in the 1971 strategy of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works. I found it really informative. I have long had an interest in urban planning and decentralisation, though neither is my professional area.

    In order to provide a reference point for future comments, I am posting some basic ideas and lots of numbers. Some really basic information has proved impossible for me to find; e.g, the precise area and the precise number of people inside Melbourne’s urban growth boundary.

    Basic Ideas
    We seem to be locked in a battle between those who think urban sprawl should simply forever and those who want to force us into medium – and high-density living. I think both views are absurd.

    I find the carbon footprint argument particularly absurd. Outer suburbs do require more car use, but high-income persons (who are more likely to be in the inner city) will, unless they take specific steps, have larger carbon footprints than low-income persons (who are more likely to be in the outer suburbs).

    If we look overseas, we will see other countries with much more even population distributions in their land areas. I see no reason that we are condemned to always put more than 60 per cent of our population into only six cities because they just happen to be on the river mouths where the British settled some 200 years ago. Decentralisation ought to be our aim.

    Australia
    Population 22,526,524 (ABS, 8/11/2010)
    (ABS)

    Area 7,686,500 square kilometres
    (Nation’s Encyclopedia)

    Density 2.9 persons per square kilometre

    Proportion of Australia’s population inside nine mainland state capitals 62.0 per cent
    (Sydney 4,500,000, Melbourne 4,000,000, Brisbane 2,000,000, Perth 1,700,000, Adelaide 1,200,000, Canberra 300,000, Hobart 200,000, Darwin 100,000 = 14,000,000) – more than half in the four largest cities

    Victoria
    Population 5,547, 527 (June 2010)
    (WA Treasury)

    Area 227,416 square kilometres
    (Australian Explorer)

    Density 24.4 persons per square kilometr

    Melbourne (Statistical Division = 30 complete local government areas plus part of Yarra Ranges Shire)
    Population (June 2009) 4,000,000
    (ABS)

    Area 8,812 square kilometres
    (DSE)
    or
    Area 7,673 square kilometres
    (Melbourne Urbanist)

    Density 521 persons per square kilometre
    Proportion of Victoria’s population inside Melbourne (Statistical Division) 72.1 per cent

    Area of Melbourne Investigation area (29 LGAs; i.e., all metropolitan minus Mornington Peninsula Shire and Yarra Ranges Shire) 5,640 square kilometres
    (Demographic characteristics of communities within the Melbourne Investigation Area, Report prepared for the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council Metropolitan Melbourne Investigation )

    Melbourne (urban area)
    Population 3,371, 886 (2006?)
    (Wikipedia)

    (Area 2,153 square kilometres (2006?)
    Wikipedia)

    Density 1,566 persons per square kilometre (2006?)

    Proportion of Victoria’s population inside Melbourne (urban area) ??.? per cent

    United Kingdom
    Population 62,041,708
    (Wikipedia)

    Area 243,610square kilometres
    (Wikipedia)

    Density 254.7persons per square kilometre
    (Wikipedia)

    Proportion of United Kingdom’s population inside London 12.5 per cent

    London
    Population 7,753,600
    (Wikipedia)

    Area 1,572 square kilometres
    (Wikipedia)

    Density 4,932 persons per square kilometre (not including green belt area)
    (Wikipedia)

    London greenbelt area 4,850 square kilometres
    (High Beam)

    London plus green belt area 6,504 square kilometres

    Density 1,192+ persons per square kilometre (including green belt area)

    Other large cities (conurbations) in the UK over 1,000,000
    Birmingham 2,284,093
    Manchester 2,244,931
    Leeds 1,499,465
    (City Population)
    Glasgow 1,184,350
    (City Population)

    Melbourne’s green wedge area under 1971 plan 2,670 square kilometres – converted from 1,031 square miles in (“Half of the City will be green areas”, The Sun, 30/11/1971).
    Melbourne’s urban area under 1971 plan 2,359 square kilometres – converted from 911 square miles in (“Half of the City will be green areas”, The Sun, 30/11/1971).

    Total planning area under 1971 plan 5,029 square kilometres

    The MMBW’s 1974 outline strategy map
    (Columbia University)

    Calculations
    Amount of land needed to accommodate Victoria’s population at Melbourne Statistical Division’s current density 10,647 square kilometres
    Percentage of Victoria completely free of people if all were accommodated at Melbourne Statistical Division’s current density 95.5 per cent
    Amount of land needed to accommodate Victoria’s population at Melbourne’s urban area density of 1,566 persons per square kilometre 3,542 square kilometres
    Percentage of Victoria completely free of people if all were accommodated at Melbourne’s urban area density of 1,566 persons per square kilometre 98.4 per cent

    Amount of land needed to accommodate Australia’s population at Melbourne Statistical Division’s current density 43,237 square kilometres
    Percentage of Australia completely free of people if all were accommodated at Melbourne Statistical Division’s current density 99.4 per cent
    Amount of land needed to accommodate Australia’s population at Melbourne’s urban area density of 1,566 persons per square kilometre 14,385 square kilometres
    Percentage of Australia completely free of people if all were accommodated at Melbourne’s urban area density of 1,566 persons per square kilometre 99.8 per cent

    Amount of land needed to give every Victorian his or her own 1,000-square metre block of land 5,548 square kilometres
    Amount of land left over 221,868 square kilometres (97.6 per cent of the state)

    Amount of land needed to give every Australian his or her own 1,000-square metre block of land 22,526 square kilometres
    Amount of land left over 7, 663,974 square kilometres (99.7 per cent of the country)

  • 16
    Chris Curtis
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    I have prepared a series of articles for Roundabout Hurstbridge, a local community paper, on the history of Melbourne’s planning policies, with an emphasis on the green wedges, given Hurstbridge’s location. I have re-worked them for this site as they give some context for where Melbourne is now. I will add material as I continue with the series.

    The History of the Green Wedges – Before They Were Even Thought of

    Sir Christopher Wren had a master plan for the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire of 1666. People were too impatient and just started rebuilding in the higgledy-piggledy fashion that still characterises London.

    Baron Haussmann had a master plan for Paris. He got his way and grand boulevards tore through the old city.

    Melbourne grew at a great pace after the Gold Rushes. My great aunt, born in 1901, told me that when her parents had married, sometime in the late nineteenth century, and had moved from South Melbourne to Prahran, people had said to them, “What do you want to go all the way out there for?”

    It’s all perspective and context, isn’t it?

    In the 1920s, the Victorian government established the Metropolitan Town Planning Commission, which submitted its final report in 1929. The Commission suggested Melbourne could have 5 million people by 2000. It was obviously a little too – depending on your point of view – pessimistic or optimistic, but it was not that far out, given how long ago it did its report. The Great Depression intervened and the report was not implemented.

    Following the Second World War, town planning got a boost in the United Kingdom with the establishment of new towns like Stevenage and Basildon in England and Glen Rothes in Scotland. The impetus for these was the garden city movement, which wanted to counter the bleak industrialisation of modern life by reconnecting with nature in the urban environment.

    The Victorian government made the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works the planning authority for the city and its surroundings in 1949. The Board of Works, which was composed of representatives from metropolitan councils, had been responsible for water, drainage and sewerage since 1891. By 1918, the Board of Works had connected the sewerage system to most houses within 10 kilometres of Melbourne and to some “densely populated” “outer suburbs” like Heidelberg and Box Hill. There seemed to be a logical connection between the provision of basic services and the future shape of the city.

    The History of the Green Wedges – From 1954 to 1968

    Melbourne’s green wedges are a refinement of the green belts of England. The Green Belt (London and Home Counties) Act 1938 empowered local authorities in England to acquire land to preserve for recreational and agricultural use. However, it was not financially feasible for local authorities to buy all the land needed to preserve as green belts. Consequentially, the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 laid the foundation of the modern planning system in England by allowing local authorities to control land without acquiring it. In 1955, local authorities were asked to set aside green belts in their development plans. The purposes were to restrict urban sprawl and to safeguard the countryside. Approximately, 13 per cent of the land area of England is green belt. The green belt around London is 5,115 square kilometres (which, being form a different source, is different form the figure quote don my original post).

    The Board of Works got to work and put its master plan on display in 1954. It covered about 4,700 square kilometres, basically within 25 kilometres of the central city. It planned for a population of 2.5 million in the 1990s. It designated higher density zones for the inner suburbs, lower density zones for middle and outer suburbs (such as Footscray, Preston and Box Hill) and rural zones for many areas that have now become suburbs. The plan shows the beginnings of the development corridors that we know today with fingers of urbanisation stretching towards Epping (but not reaching it), out past Box Hill, to Dandenong and to Frankston. Surrounding these areas was a rural zone, with towns such as Epping and Warrandyte appearing as separate low-density residential zones within it. It also identified areas for major open space networks; e.g., along the Yarra River.

    It also proposed a major open space network along rivers and creeks. It also proposed five district centres – Footscray, Preston, Box Hill, Moorabbin and Dandenong. The policy at the time said:
    “They will offer to residents of the locality many of the facilities of the central city area under more attractive conditions nearer to their homes”(p.53).

    The green wedges were not part of the plan in 1954, but green belts had been established around a number of cities overseas, London being the one with the closest connection with us in those days.

    The 1967 Plan provided more detail than the 1954 Plan, expanded the proposed development corridors and identified areas in which special protection might be required, one of which was in the old Shire of Eltham area. It left most of the rest of that part of the metropolitan area as non-urban.

    In 1968, the government endorsed the green wedge/development corridor strategy and provided for satellite townships at Melton and Sunbury.

    The History of the Green Wedges – 1971

    In 1971, the Board of Works produced its Framework Plan for Metropolitan Melbourne. The total planning area was 5,029 square kilometres. There were eight development corridors – Berwick, Frankston, Lilydale, Plenty, Merri, Sunbury, Melton and Werribee, except that Sunbury was really a satellite city – totalling 2,359 square kilometres. The Plenty corridor was to accommodate an additional 400,000 people (who seem to be moving in right now), while the Lilydale corridor was to accommodate an additional 350,000 people, who seem to have moved in some time ago. There were eight green wedges – Werribee South, Derrimut, Calder, Woodstock, Kinglake-Yarra, Dandenongs, Cranbourne and Springvale – totalling 2,670 square kilometres.

    About 10 square kilometres of the Yarra Valley area, from Heidelberg to Warrandyte, was to be reserved for recreational purposes, while the rest of it was to be retained for non-urban uses. This recreational reservation was later used to bolster the claim that there were no green wedges in the MMBW plan. In fact, almost all of what is now the Shire of Nillumbik was zoned as conservation, landscape interest, farming, public open space and public purposes.

    Mr J. A. Hepburn, the chief planner for the Board of Works, said, “All future development will be in corridors. There will be no urban development in the green wedges – that is the basis of the whole policy.”

    The Green Wedge policy was endorsed some 40 years ago by the Bolte and Hamer Liberal governments. It is part of the development corridor/green wedge strategy for the city that came from the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works. The Board of Works publication, Living City, No. 10, Spring-Summer 1971, outlined the long-term plan for Melbourne, with a number of development corridors separated by green wedges. The Sun of 30/11/1971 (pages 30-33) had extensive coverage of the public release of this plan.

    A number of recent claims* have been made that:
    the MMBW plan of 1971, endorsed by the Bolte and then the Hamer government was for a ‘green belt’, not ‘green wedges’;
    that the green wedges were an invention of the Bracks Labor government;
    that the that the only green area was to be 4 square miles along the Yarra River.
    All this is false.

    The Liberal government of the day said at the time:
    ‘We believe that any future growth of the metropolis should be of a “corridor” pattern, and that “green wedges” of open space, parkland and recreation areas should be permanently preserved between such corridors, especially along the river valleys, readily accessible to all.’ (‘Architects challenge party leaders’, The Age, 23/5/1970)

    The press reported the “green wedges” the day after the policy was announced:
    ‘The corridors would be split be eight “green wedges” in which any development would be severely controlled.
    ‘The wedges, or conservation areas, total 1031 square miles…
    ‘The green wedges recommended are divided into conservation zones, landscape interest zones, land for farming and for farming…
    ‘Kinglake-Yarra Wedge [now the Nillumbik Green Wedge], extending from Mt. Disappointment in the north to beyond the Yarra River in the South. It contains Kinglake National Park, the hill country north-east of the city and the Yarra Valley.
    ‘The bushland in the area provides excellent native plant and animal habitats and is popular for day trips.’ (“Half of the City will be green areas”, The Sun, 30/11/1971)

    ‘Eight green wedges are the key proposal in the Board of Works’ master plan for Melbourne.’
    ‘The wedges, or conservation zones, will be the lungs of a future city with a population near five million.
    ‘The board’s chief planner, Mr J. A. Hepburn, said the whole basis of the plan was that there would be no urban development in the wedges.’ (“The plan”, The Sun, 30/11/1971)

    Next to the article is a map with the eight green wedges labelled as “wedges”, not a “green belt”. They look like wedges too, not like a belt. (Googling people+households+and+melbourne+2030+presentation should present a similar map from 1974.)

    Alan Hunt, who as the Minister for Planning in the Bolte and Hamer Governments ought to know, says:
    “The core feature of Melbourne’s growth strategy is the “green wedge” policy. Uncontrolled growth sprawling out from the centre – as occurs in many cities, such as Los Angeles – is not permitted. Instead urban expansion is confined to distinct corridors, or “fingers of growth”, separated by substantial green wedges acting as the lungs of the city.
    “The possibility of this policy was flagged in 1966 by Dick (now Sir Rupert) Hamer as minister responsible for planning. The policy was further developed by the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works in 1967 in a report titled The Future Growth of Melbourne, and in 1968 by the Bolte government formally adopting the board’s proposals.”
    World’s most liveable city no accident. The Age, 23/4/2003)

    The MMBW’s 1974 outline strategy map (linked to in my original post) shows green wedges, not a green belt.

    What Happened Next

    Despite nibbling away at the green wedges over the past 40 years, more details of which will be provided in a later post, the basic shape for the metropolitan area set in 1971 is still distinguishable 40 years later.

    References
    Kathryn Mitchell, Dual Occupancy and its Impact on Metropolitan Growth in Melbourne (1986-1992), Master of Arts in Town Planning, Victoria University of Technology, 1999
    “Half the City will be green areas”, The Sun, 30/11/1971
    “The plan”, The Sun, 30/11/1971
    Living City, No. 10, Spring-Summer 1971
    Susan Priestley, Making Their Mark, Fairfax, Syme & Weldon Associates, McMahons Point, 1984

  • 17
    Chris Curtis
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Links
    The first five provide examples of false claims re the green wedges.
    How can this giant country have run out of land?

    Tips for Wednesday, December 22, 2010

    Firey debate

    The only good in this bad result

    Forum – Friday, March 6

    London Green Belt History

    London Green Belt Circular

    England Green Belt Statistics

    Map of London’s green belt

    MAV Time Line

  • 18
    Chris Curtis
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    The History of the Green Wedges – The Last 40 Years

    The 1971 Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works Framework had very clearly defined growth corridors, stretching some distance – more than 40 kilometres in some cases – from the central city and distinct green wedges separating those development corridors. The green wedges were extensive and in most cases wide.

    In 1974, the MMBW released a revised Framework Plan. It retained the 1971 plan’s corridors and green wedges, but made some changes to the green wedge boundaries. In overall shape it was almost identical.

    In 1976, the government identified preferred development areas and reduced the size of the development corridors; e.g., the Melton corridor disappeared and Melton was identified as a satellite town.

    In 1981, the government decided to focus growth on consolidation within the existing urban area, but the overall shape of metropolitan Melbourne remained the same as it had been under the MMBW’s 1971 plan, with the exception that Melton continued the 1976 revision as a satellite town, not part of a growth corridor. This new approach introduced district centres and dual occupancy as of right, the latter creating considerable controversy at the time. However, the green wedges remained intact as conservation and farming areas.

    Between 1996 and 2002, different governments removed some 40 square kilometres of land from the green wedges and added them to the development corridors.

    In 2002, the government decided to legislate for an urban growth boundary. Prior to this legislation, further extensions of urban areas were at the discretion of the government of the day. Under the new law, any such extensions would require the approval of both Houses of Parliament. The legislation was passed in 2003.

    In 2005, Parliament took another 110 square kilometres of land from the green wedges and put them inside the urban growth boundary.

    In 2010, Parliament, with the support of both government and opposition, passed a law taking another 436 square kilometres from the green wedges and putting them inside the urban growth boundary, though 150 square kilometres of this land were designated as grassland reserves. The extra urban areas are on the north, south-east and west of Melbourne.

    A clockwise historical tour of the various plans for Metropolitan Melbourne over the past 57 years shows the following (using the 1971 plan’s names for the corridors and green wedges and using the terminology from the years given):

    Werribee South Green Wedge: rural (1954), special protection required (1967), non-urban (1971), non-urban (1974), non-urban (1976), rural and landscape/ecological (1981), rural and parks (2002), non-urban (2010).

    Werribee Development Corridor: rural (1954), urban (1967), urban (1971), urban (1974), urban, but much shorter development corridor (1976), urban, all the way to Little River (1981), urban, but shorter (2002), urban and enlarged (2010).

    Derrimut Green Wedge: rural (1954), rural (1967), non-urban (1971), non-urban (1974), non-urban (1976), rural and landscape/ecological (1981), rural and parks (2002), non-urban, but much smaller and no longer looking like a wedge (2010).

    Melton Development Corridor: rural (1954), rural, except Melton identified as a separate urban township (1967), urban, with Melton no longer identified as a separate urban township (1971), urban (1974), urban and non-urban, with Melton again identified as a separate urban township (1976), urban and non-urban, with Melton still identified as a separate urban township (1981), urban and non-urban, with Melton still identified as a separate urban township (2002), urban, with Melton no longer identified as a separate urban township again (2010).

    Calder Green Wedge: rural (1954), rural, with some areas requiring special protection (1967), non-urban (1971), non-urban (1974), non-urban (1976), rural and landscape/ecological (1981), rural and parks (2002), non-urban, but smaller (2010).

    Sunbury Development “Corridor” (actually a satellite city): outside planning area (1954), urban as separate township (1967), urban as a separate township (1971), urban as a separate township and slightly bigger than in 1971 (1974), urban as a separate township (1976), urban as a separate township (1981), urban as a separate township, (2002) urban as a larger separate township (2010).

    Merri Development Corridor: rural, except Craigieburn as a separate urban township (1954), urban (1967), urban, with Craigieburn no longer identified as a separate urban township (1971), urban (1974), non-urban (1976), urban, extending past Craigieburn (1981), urban, but shorter (2002,) urban, but longer again (2010).

    Woodstock Green Wedge: rural (1954), rural (1967), non-urban (1971), non-urban (1974), non-urban (1976), rural and landscape/ecological (1981), rural and parks (2002), mostly gone (2010).

    Plenty Development Corridor: rural, except Epping a separate town (1954), some urban, some rural, with some areas requiring special protection and with Whittlesea identified as a separate urban township (1967), urban, with Whittlesea no longer identified as a separate urban township (1971), urban (1974), urban (1976), urban (1981), urban, rural and parks, with Whittlesea identified as a separate urban township again (2002), urban and non-urban, with Whittlesea still identified as a separate urban township (2010).

    Kinglake-Yarra Green Wedge: rural, with some small separate towns, such as Warrandyte, inside it (1954), rural, with some areas requiring special protection (1967), non-urban, with some small separate towns (1971), non-urban (1974), non-urban (1976), rural and landscape/ecological (1981), rural and parks (2002), non-urban, with some small separate towns (2010).

    Lilydale Development Corridor: urban (1954) urban (1967) urban (1971) urban (1974) urban (1976) urban (1981) urban (2002) urban (2010)

    Dandenongs Green Wedge: rural (1954) rural, rural, with large areas requiring special protection (1967), non-urban, with some small separate towns (1971), non-urban (1974), non-urban (1976), rural and landscape/ecological (1981), rural and parks (2002), non-urban, with some small separate towns (2010).

    Berwick Development Corridor: urban as far as Dandenong, but not as far as Berwick (1954), urban, with Cranbourne identified as a separate urban township (1967), urban, extended beyond Berwick and, with another extension to Cranbourne (1971), urban beyond Berwick and to Cranbourne (1974), urban (1976), urban (1981), urban with the Berwick corridor extended eastwards and with the Cranbourne adjunct corridor thickened (2002), urban, with the Cranbourne adjunct corridor still thickened (2010).

    Cranbourne Green Wedge: rural (1954), rural, rural, with some areas requiring special protection (1967), non-urban (1971), non-urban (1974), non-urban, (1976) rural and parks (1981), rural (2002), non-urban (2010).

    Springvale Green Wedge: rural (1954), rural, with large areas requiring special protection (1967), non-urban (1971), non-urban (1974), non-urban (1976), rural and landscape/ecological (1981,) rural and parks, but encroached on by the development corridors either side of it (2002), non-urban (2010).

    Frankston Development Corridor: thinly urban (1954), urban (1967), urban (1971), urban (1974), urban (1976), urban (1981), urban and enlarged (2002), urban (2010).

    Green wedges exist to provide breaks between urban land, to make the countryside more accessible, to protect significant landscape areas and to protect wildlife. Despite the intentions of planners of any time, other forces can make changes – and this is what we see when we look at almost a century of planning in Melbourne.

    References
    Dual Occupancy and its Impact on Metropolitan Growth in Melbourne (1986-1992), Kathryn Mitchell, Master of Arts in Town Planning, Victoria University of Technology, 1999
    Maintaining Melbourne’s Green Wedges, Michael Buxton and Robin Goodman, School of Social Science and Planning – RMIT University, December 2002
    “Half the City will be green areas”, The Sun, 30/11/1971
    “The plan”, The Sun, 30/11/1971
    Living City, No. 10, MMBW, Spring-Summer 1971
    Land shortage, price hike link a myth, claims academic, Simon Johanson, The Age, 6/12/2010
    Green land cut back as Melbourne grows much bigger , Jason Dowling, The Age, 29/7/2010
    Planning – a history August 8, 2009
    MELBOURNE’S URBAN GROWTH BOUNDARY SETTLED

    There are maps are viewable at:
    Dual Occupancy and its Impact on Metropolitan Growth in Melbourne
    and
    Maintaining Melbourne’s Green Wedges.

  • 19
    Chris Curtis
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    As the current state government creates ways to undermine the green wedge legacy of Dick Hamer, a number of myths re the green wedges have gained circulation. Some of the older ones, such as that the green wedge was only meant to be 10 square kilometres along the Yarra River and that Steve Bracks created them only a few years ago, have been dealt with above.

    One of the more recent claims is that landowners in England’s green belts are exempt from rates and land tax. A perusal of the United Kingdom government’s websites on taxation shows this is yet another false claim.

    There is no land tax in England, so no one pays land tax. There is a stamp duty, payable on land transfers, confusingly called stamp duty land tax, and there is no exemption for green belt land.

    “Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is generally payable on the purchase or transfer of property or land in the UK where the amount paid is above a certain threshold. In addition most UK land and property transactions must be notified to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on a Stamp Duty Land Tax return within a certain time limit – even if no tax is due.
    “Various rules apply for working out how much, if any, SDLT is payable. The calculation – which is based on a value called the ‘chargeable consideration’ – can vary depending on whether the land is residential or non-residential, freehold or leasehold, or on other factors such as whether several transactions are linked.”
    ( Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) : the basics)

    There are some exemptions:
    “Some land and property transactions are exempt from Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) regardless of their value and therefore don’t need to be notified to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on an SDLT return. These include:
    transactions where no money changes hands
    property that’s left in a will
    transfers of property in a divorce or when a civil partnership is dissolved
    “n addition HMRC doesn’t have to be notified about the following:
    freehold transactions or assignments of leases of less than £40,000
    grants of leases of seven years or more where the value is less than £40,000 and the annual rent is less than £1,000
    grants of leases of less than seven years – or assignments of leases which were originally granted for less than seven years – where the total value of the transaction isn’t more than the residential or non-residential SDLT threshold
    “For all other land and property transactions HMRC needs to be notified on an SDLT return.”
    ( Transactions that don’t require an SDLT return)

    Green belt land is not mentioned in the exemptions.

    Residents pay council tax in England (not rates) and it is payable on occupied property only. There is no exemption for property inside green belts.

    “Council Tax helps pay for local services like policing and rubbish collection. Council Tax applies to all domestic properties, including houses, bungalows, flats, maisonettes, mobile homes and houseboats, whether owned or rented.”
    ( Council Tax: your band)

    There are some exemptions:
    “Some properties are classed as ‘exempt’ from Council Tax. This means they won’t receive a Council Tax bill. They include:
    student halls of residence and houses lived in only by full-time students
    armed forces accommodation
    annexes such as a garden flat if it is lived in by the children of the main home’s owner
    “Exemptions and empty homes
    There are limits on how long empty homes won’t be charged Council Tax:
    unfurnished homes where no one lives are exempt for up to six months
    homes undergoing major repair work or structural changes (eg rebuilding walls and floors) are exempt for up to 12 months
    homes where the owner has died are exempt for up to six months after probate is granted (your legal right to sell the home)
    “After this time, the property may qualify for an empty homes discount.
    “Some homes are exempt for as long as they remain empty. They include homes:
    of someone in prison (except for not paying a fine or Council Tax)
    of someone who has moved into a care home or hospital
    that have been repossessed
    that cannot be lived in by law
    that are kept empty because they have been compulsory purchased and so will be demolished”
    ( Council Tax exemptions)

    Having a home on greenbelt land is not mentioned in the exemptions.

    Businesses pay business rates. There is no exemption for businesses inside green belts.

    “Business rates – the commonly used term for non-domestic rates – are charged on most non-domestic premises, including most commercial properties such as shops, offices, pubs, warehouses and factories.
    “If you use a building or part of a building for business, you will probably have to pay business rates. Your premises will be given a rateable value by the Valuation Office Agency, which your local authority will use to calculate how much you should pay.
    “This guide explains how business rates are calculated, what they are used for, and the definitions of some key words and phrases. It also gives details of professional organisations that can provide further help and advice.”
    ( Business rates – an overview)

    There are some exemptions:

    “Certain types of property are exempt from business rates. The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) does not assess these types of property for rateable value.
    “Exempt types of property include:
    agricultural land and buildings including fish farms
    use of buildings for the training or welfare of disabled persons
    buildings registered for public religious worship and church halls
    “A full list of the exempt types of property can be found in Schedule 5 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988.”
    ( Business rates relief)

    Having a business inside a green belt is not an exemption.

    There are also some discounts:
    “The rural rate relief scheme was introduced to help protect the last retail outlets and similar services in rural settlements with a population of less than 3,000.
    “Under the scheme, the following businesses in designated rural settlements are entitled to 50 per cent mandatory rate relief:
    the sole village shop or post office with a rateable value of up to £8,500
    the sole public house or petrol station with a rateable value of up to £12,500
    “Local authorities have a discretionary power to top up the mandatory relief to 100 per cent. They can also, if they wish, provide discretionary relief up to 100 per cent to other rural retail facilities, providing the rateable value is below £16,500.”
    ( Rural rate relief)
    Having a business inside a green belt does not provide a discount.

    In summary, having a home or a business inside a green belt makes no difference to stamp duty land tax, council tax or business rates.

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  1. ...] Whoever wins power, I’ve touched on what I think some of the new strategic directions for Melbourne ought to be elsewhere on this blog, for example here. [...

  2. ...] also argued that there are generally better gains to be had from using existing resources more efficiently [...

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