NEW GOVERNMENT LAND GRAB TO BENEFIT DEVELOPERS, UNFETTERED URBAN SPRAWL DESTROYING MELBOURNE'S GREEN WEDGES
In the latest assault on Melbourne’s green wedges, Planning Minister Matthew Guy plans to take another 6000 ha from the green wedges to give Melbourne more urban sprawl and to concrete over more fertile farmland and environmentally significant wetlands, grasslands and woodlands. This is subject to a vote in Parliament which will bring huge unearned windfall profits to landholders, developers and their lobbyists, including Liberal party donors and fund-raisers: an estimated $500 million for one 103 ha property (see media coverage: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/liberal-donors-win-big-f... Coalition policy is for another UGB review is due in two years, about the time of the next election.
This latest Green Wedge land grab will create continuing uncertainty around the Urban Growth Boundary by proposing 14 areas to be excised from the green wedges for urban growth and recommending a further 16 areas for “possible future review.” This signals that Melbourne will go on sprawling for as long as the Coalition Government stays in office. A further 20 green wedge areas were ruled out for urban development. This latest green wedge land grab is particularly deplorable as it is not based on any demonstrated need for more development land. The Growth Areas Authority recently estimated that the Growth Corridor Plans (for the 43,600 ha of land rezoned in 2010) would provide 20 to 50 years’ land supply for the continued urban sprawl which most of us don’t want. Every representative survey conducted, from Manningham’s in 2002 to Kingston’s in 2011, finds overwhelming majorities want green wedges protected for environmental conservation, agriculture, parklands, landscape value and recreation. It appears to breach federal requirements that environmental strategies to protect endangered species including Southern Brown Bandicoot, Growling Grass Frog and Golden Sun Moth must be finalised first and that urban development plans must work around them. None of these environmental strategies have been finalised and the SBB strategy has been postponed for six months. Meanwhile land that spans a proposed bandicoot habitat corridor in Casey has been approved for excision from the green wedge. See VNPA media release. We are calling on Matthew Guy to listen to communities, abandon plans for illogical incursions and return to policies to protect the green wedges. This may disappoint the developers and property consultants, but will please everyone else.