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A (new?) Plan for Melbourne – Metropolitan Planning Strategy 2017

The new Plan Melbourne was released on Saturday and it has delivered what it set out to do – a refreshed, long term planning strategy for Melbourne. The key themes from the 2014 Strategy remain intact (including the 20 minute neighbourhood, urban renewal precincts and national employment clusters) however they are communicated differently with fewer overall plans and a reduced emphasis on the sub-regional context (note: preparation of subregional land use framework plans is a project in the associated Infrastructure Plan).

Of course the two most evident changes in the Strategy are the removal of the East-West link project and the determination of the new Melbourne Metro Rail project.

Also different is the emphasis (or de-emphasis) of the 2017 Strategy on a number of themes. There is an enhanced focus on housing affordability (in line with the Home For Victorians package released by the State Government) as well as environmental factors with a number of targets set.

There is a de-emphasis on ‘protecting the suburbs’ in the Strategy both in the general narrative and the housing targets set. The Strategy sets a benchmark for the distribution for new housing with 65% of growth to be directed to established areas (35 % to greenfield) and an additional aspirational target of 70% for established areas. This results in some 1.08 million houses by 2051 being delivered in established areas. The Strategy moves away from the 50% minimum requirement to apply the Neighbourhood Residential Zone within Metropolitan Melbourne and includes the preparation of metropolitan regional housing plans as a short term action within the Implementation Plan. These plans will inform updates to local housing strategies and planning schemes and are therefore likely to include a review of the residential zones so that housing targets can be met.

The 2014 Strategy included short, medium and long term actions with associated responsibilities in the document itself. The refreshed Strategy provides a separate Implementation Plan that identifies infrastructure priorities for the next 5 years.

Some of the other notable changes or features of the Strategy include:

  • A clearer indication about setting and maintaining a permanent the Urban Growth Boundary. Whilst the 2014 Strategy included an initiative to set a permanent boundary, this was to be determined having regard to a number of factors including the views of the relevant local Council’s and the Logical Inclusions Committee. The 2017 Strategy omits any reference to these matters, intimating that the government will simply maintain the UGB based on the overall priorities of the Plan.

  • Additional guidance on planning and development sequencing of greenfield areas to maintain a 15 year supply (based on uptake of 18 dwellings per hectare). This aligns with the targets set for the distribution of housing between greenfield and established areas.

  • Encouragement (over time) of an overall average density of 20 dwellings per hectare in the growth areas.

To review the Strategy in full, download it here.

Should you have any questions or queries on the Strategy, please feel free to contact Echelon Planning.

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