Plan Melbourne refresh - submissions analysis May 2016

Plan Melbourne Metropolitan Planning Strategy Submissions Analysis - May 2016

This following documentation is a direct extraction of content from the State Government’s recently released Plan Melbourne Metropolitan Planning Strategy Submissions Analysis May 2016 relevant to the issues of the Green Wedge Coalition as detailed in our submission to Plan Melbourne refresh process made in December last year.

This report was independently prepared for the State Government by Capire Consulting.

This summary does not provide the state government’s response to the main messages but aims only to overview what organisations and individuals said.

A total of 315 ‘unique’ submissions were received. A further 82 submissions were received from individuals associated with two golf clubs seeking to have land included within the urban growth boundary. These submissions took the form of a campaign, were single issue and related to two specific sites. These submissions were treated as two individual submissions (one for each golf club).

The heading are as in the Plan Melbourne Metropolitan Planning Strategy Submissions Analysis May 2016.

What we heard

  • Submitters offered mixed views about locking in the urban growth boundary. They strongly supported the concepts of the polycentric city and 20-minute neighbourhood. Support for the 20-minute neighbourhood was clarified by some concerns about whether it was possible to achieve in low-density suburbs with an entrenched dependence on cars. There was also support for including a separate chapter on place and identity.
  • There was support for National Employment Clusters (NECs) having a stronger focus on innovation, but that planning for them should look beyond core institutions. Submitters also agreed it was important to protect high-value agricultural land and areas for extractive industries.
  • There was widespread support for all measures outlined in the discussion paper to address climate change. Submitters were in favour of planning policies that support a cooler and greener city, hazard management and the uptake of renewable energy and low-emission technologies. They also backed measures to improve the long-term health of key flora and fauna habitats.

2          Growth challenges, fundamental principles and key concepts

2.3 Containing growth, protecting key values in peri-urban areas and green wedges

A total of 158 submissions responded to an option in the discussion paper to lock down the existing urban growth boundary with 59% of these submissions either strongly agreeing or agreeing with the option.

Submitters offered mixed views about locking in the urban growth boundary, with support from local government and some industry organisations and concerns from the development industry and individuals. Some submitters who did not agree felt that ongoing flexibility to review the boundary in line with Melbourne's growth was needed, or that there must be a definitive process to resolve logical inclusions before lockdown. 82 petition style letters raised this issue in relation to two golf clubs.

Submitters also:

  • said the State Government should prepare a peri-urban policy statement
  • said Plan Melbourne 2016 should identify important agricultural land, areas of biodiversity importance, high-value landscapes and airport buffer attributes/roles
  • said the State Government should better articulate and communicate the importance of the green wedges and the peri-urban area, which need to be understood as part of Melbourne's cultural and social fabric
  • asked for specific sites to be included in the urban growth boundary
  • raised concerns about residential development encroaching on valuable agricultural land in green wedges and peri-urban areas
  • supported replacing the integrated economic triangle concept included in Plan Melbourne with a high-level 2050 concept map.

3          Delivering jobs and investment

3.4        Strategic agricultural land and extractive industries

Agricultural land

The discussion paper invited feedback on evaluating the range of planning mechanisms available to protect strategic agricultural land. Plan Melbourne highlights that highly productive agricultural land around Melbourne is under threat from urban encroachment and residential development.

In regard to the protection of strategic agricultural land, submitters:

  • agreed that high-value agricultural land should be protected
  • said that current planning mechanisms should be reviewed and strengthened where necessary
  • considered the definition and process for identifying high-value agricultural land to be important; and that intensive and innovative agribusiness activities and ancillary uses should not be excluded from land zoned for agriculture.

Extractive industries

In regard to extractive industries submitters:

  • acknowledged the importance of extractive industries
  • generally supported implementing the outcomes of the Extractive Industries Taskforce
  • said that the location and use of sites for the extraction of materials (and their possible later use for landfill) must be monitored and controlled, particularly when close to sensitive uses and in areas of natural significance
  • said that land used for quarrying must be properly remediated when activity ceases.

5          Housing

5.1        Balance between established and growth areas

A 70/30 target

The discussion paper included an option, ‘Increase established area housing supply by ... establishing a 70/30 target where established areas provide 70 per cent of Melbourne’s new housing supply and greenfield growth areas provide 30 per cent’. A 70/30 target did not get majority support.

Of the 111 responses, 58% either strongly disagreed or disagreed with the option. The highest level of disagreement was expressed by individuals and community and not-for-profit groups, citing loss of amenity and infrastructure constraints. A few disagreed on the basis that the target was too low for established areas, and suggested alternative approaches.

Local governments and industry organisations were split on the issue. Of those that did not support the option, many said that setting targets was a simplistic approach that may have unintended consequences or may fail to deliver the intended outcomes. Those that supported the approach said it was a good way to limit urban sprawl.

6          A more resilient and environmentally sustainable Melbourne

Chapter 6 of the discussion paper outlined how the planning system can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build our resilience to the impact of climate change. The discussion paper also set out strategic environmental principles and considered the need for improving hazard mapping – the mapping of areas prone to flooding, bushfire or coastal inundation – and new planning tools to respond to climate change challenges and build resilience. There was also discussion of ways to strengthen high-priority habitat corridors, make the city cooler and greener and environmentally sustainable design, and actions to encourage renewable energy to deliver environmental outcomes, such as reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

6.4       Natural habitats

The discussion paper included an option, ‘Strengthen high-priority habitat corridors throughout Melbourne and its peri-urban areas to improve long-term health of key flora and fauna habitats’.

Of the 103 responses, 80% either strongly agreed or agreed with the option. The highest level of disagreement was by industry organisations and some individuals: they said that existing planning provisions effectively addressed this option.

Submitters strongly supported better defining and protecting high-priority habitat corridors, focusing on waterways and Port Phillip Bay and corridors within established suburbs.

Submitters also:

  • raised the need to avoid ad hoc planning and creating disconnected sites, focusing instead on habitat corridors along waterways, road reserves and existing conservation areas
  • questioned how habitats would be maintained (particularly habitats on private land) and how bushfire risks would be managed
  • said that protecting high-priority habitat corridors may be incompatible with most recreational uses, which should be acknowledged
  • provided examples of existing or proposed projects
  • emphasised the need to connect habitat corridor planning with Plan Melbourne’s existing commitment to develop an open space strategy.

6.5        Cooling a hot city

Submitters strongly supported innovative design and planning approval incentives to help cool the city and increase tree canopy cover on public and private land.

Submitters noted the many benefits of green infrastructure, including that it can reduce urban heat, improve water management, protect biodiversity and enhance public health.

Submitters supported a holistic policy response: one that addresses not only vegetation issues but also water management and building design and materials.

Many submitters noted the need to manage competing policies (such as urban consolidation) with the loss of permeable areas and canopy trees. Many saw protecting existing street trees as an important issue.

Submitters supported encouraging green buildings, walls, roofs and permeable surfaces in developments, to cool the city.

Green Wedge Coalition
Monday, 27 June, 2016