19 October 2010

A Melbourne of 8 Million?

Bernard Salt - will you start reading the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, IPCC, Global Footprint Network et al ad infinitum...this is NOT just about density, or what is the 'norm' elsewhere in the world right now, its about a whole perfect storm of trends, demographic and otherwise, that are brewing.

Reposted in full from the Herald Sun, 19 October 2010

'MELBOURNE is facing massive changes as its population surges towards eight million by 2060, big business has warned.

Nuclear energy and a fast-rail link to Sydney are vital developments being pushed by the Committee for Melbourne.

The business think-tank also says government should appoint a minister for Greater Melbourne.

Committee for Melbourne chief executive Andrew MacLeod said a doubling of Melbourne's population over the next 50 years was a "normal" rate of growth.

He slammed suggestions the city's population spurt should be capped, rejecting arguments by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and activist Dick Smith that Australia didn't have the infrastructure to cope.

A population cap was one of the "greatest threats" to Melbourne's future as it would allow governments turn a blind eye to the reality of growth.

At the current growth rate, Melbourne will overtake Sydney as Australia's biggest city in the 2030s.

Demographer Bernard Salt said Melbourne had the capacity to double in size.

"A city of eight million may seem shocking now but it will be no bigger than London or Paris are currently," he said.

"And it will rebalance Melbourne with most of the future growth expected to be in the north and west of the city.

"At the moment Melbourne stretches 50km to the east to Pakenham but only 30km to the west to Melton."

A population of eight millions would stretch the city's boundaries to Wallan in the north and Werribee in the west.

Moving jobs out of the CBD was the key to maintaining Melbourne's liveability, Mr Salt said.

Six new "central activities districts" have already been designated at Box Hill, Broadmeadows, Dandenong, Footscray, Frankston and Ringwood.

Mr Salt said this would breathe life into suburbia, allowing people to spend less time commuting and more time with their families.

But the third volume of the Committee for Melbourne's Melbourne Beyond 5 Million documents to be released today warns of "significant challenges and shortfalls" for Melbourne.

It highlights a $100 billion backlog of unbuilt roads, rails and ports in Victoria that is getting worse by the day.

A vital part of the growth strategy is moving the Port of Melbourne out of the city to Hastings, in Western Port Bay, and freeing up the land at Fisherman's Bend for housing.

Mr MacLeod said the key to maintaining Melbourne's position as one of the world's great cities would be an increase in medium density housing in outer suburbs.

"We don't want a Docklands on every corner," he said.

"But property prices show Melburnians prefer a St Kilda location with its cafes and transport options close to the city than a low-density area like Sunshine."

A spokesperson for Planning Minister Justin Madden said plans were being drawn up for about 600,000 new homes across the city.

"The Urban Growth Boundary was recently expanded to release enough land for more than 20 years - enough for 134,000 new homes," the spokesperson said.

"And there is significant capacity for more housing in Melbourne's existing suburbs, such as the re-use of old industrial sites.

"It is vital to draw on this capacity when planning for Melbourne's growth."'

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