23 February 2011

Melbourne Set for Eight Million People in 2051

Reposted in full from the Herald Sun, 22 February 2011

'MELBURNIANS should get excited about the city's rapid growth and take the emotion out of the population debate, says an influential lobby group.

The Committee for Melbourne, which represents more than 180 businesses and organisations, wants to educate people about the benefits of growth, with the city's population expected to be nearly eight million by 2051.

The group's CEO, Andrew MacLeod, said yesterday that his biggest frustration was that the population debate was populist and not pragmatic.

"We want to take the emotion out of the debate and put the logic back in," he said.

"Our parents took a city, doubled its size and improved its liveability. Melbourne is a much better city in 2010 on most levels than 1960.

"We have some congestion problems, we have some public transport problems, but our quality of life, our cultural experience, our cafes are much better."

But Mr MacLeod warned that unplanned growth would be a disaster and could lead to "horrible" conditions such as exist in cities like Manila.

"We must take that challenge, we must get excited about the opportunities that can come from well-planned growth, but be very careful of the threats that come from unplanned growth.

But Ms Julianne Bell, secretary of residents' group Protectors of Public Lands Victoria, said the only people getting excited about rampant growth were land developers, builders and the transport industry.

"We agree growth should be planned but it's not necessary for Melbourne to have eight million people or even five million," she said.

The Committee for Melbourne wants a plan that will determine the city's ultimate physical shape, optimal population densities and the location and character of activity centres beyond the CBD.'

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