Melbourne housing – Round the bend.

Posted by on Apr 15, 2013 in Blog, Opinion | No Comments

This week saw the beginning of a turf war in Melbourne. Melbourne city council and port Phillip council go into battle to determine who has jurisdiction and planning control over Fisherman’s bend. This former industrial port is just south of the CBD, next to Port Melbourne, and is going to be transformed into a new residential area expected to house 50,000 new residents.

Fishermans Bend

With 217 of the 240 hectares sitting within port Philip council’s zoning, and the remaining 23 in Melbourne City council, you’d say the math on who should have control is pretty straightforward. Not so thinks Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, who wants the government to transfer control over to Melbourne city council, despite Port Phillip having already spent two years consulting the public, and developing a detailed planning strategy for this newest part of Melbourne. Ahh it’s just two years of tax payers money that has been wasted…

Doyle says the area is too important to leave to developers to dictate how the area should be re-developed. “If we go down this track we are going down the track of docklands” he said. An admission that docklands and its out of scale high-rise approach to living, is not in keeping with what Melbournian’s want. Yet he wants the City of Melbourne council who approved the towers at Docklands, to take over at Fishermans Bend!

The docklands is a fine display of how out of touch both local and state governments are with how Melbourne should move forward to meet the demands of our rapidly growing population. Ironic then that planning minister Matthew Guy has just approved a 49 storey high-rise residential tower at Fishermans bend. Anyone else see the contradiction here?

What further frustrates me about this is what isn’t happening for the rest of Melbourne. Our sprawl is out of control; our densities are too low. The quarter acre block we all desire for our home and backyard puts so much distance between each of us, perpetuating our dependence on cars and choking this city with traffic. Making things worse, our public transport network is a hub and spoke system, whereby all trains and trams head towards the city. The closer you live to the city the more public transport options are available to you. Planning minister Matthew Guy, and lord Mayor Robert Doyle know that too, that’s why they want to cram more people into Fishermans bend just outside the CBD, because it’s cheaper than creating more public transport for the rest of Melbourne. They’d rather another new docklands whoops sorry I meant suburb (that so happens to be made up of high-rise towers) that is close to the CBD/ public transport, and leave the remaining 85% of Melbourne with nothing in the way of new train lines to help them get to work everyday.

Let’s add into the mix that Tony Abbott said if elected he would follow the Labor governments policy of providing no federal funding for new train lines in Melbourne, instead continuing the current approach of only spending money on roads. Whatever the result at the next election, we aren’t getting more train lines. Yet all over the world, city after city has shown building more roads creates more traffic. How? More roads leads us to use cars more readily, as we think traffic will flow better now there is one more lane added. The only problem with that is everyone thinks the same, and the added capacity is immediately filled with more cars than it can cope with. When it comes to roads, that old saying “build it and they will come” is most definitely an understatement.

I ask this of our planning decision makers:
– Do we really need more two bedrooms apartments crammed 49 storeys high?
– Do these house or help families, many who already can’t afford a home anywhere near inner Melbourne?
– Does it help the majority of Melbourne get to work each day?

Lets put aside the turf war over Fishermans bend, Melbournians have been battling a bigger turf war for years: the high demand for our limited supply of housing! It’s the reason our houses were this year deemed by an international housing survey: the second most expensive in the world, behind Hong Kong!

I thought it was called ‘planning’ because it helps us plan for our city’s future? Apparently our future is at Fishermans Bend. There are also really good deals going on empty apartments at Docklands…

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