By Andrew Starc

7 April 2010 – Melbourne will become an “Eco City” if  Melbourne City Council’s new strategic plan is adopted next week.

The Future Melbourne Committee will vote next Tuesday, 13 April, to endorse the plan, a review of the Municipal Strategic Statement, as a proposed amendment to the Melbourne Planning Scheme.

According to the Future Melbourne Committee Report, the plan sets out a vision towards creating an “Eco City”, outlining objectives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.

In a significant move, it also outlines three key types of areas in terms of their capacity for growth and intensity of change – Stable Areas, Ongoing Change Areas and Urban Renewal Areas  – in line with work undertaken by Rob Adams, director of design and culture for the City of Melbourne. (See our articles on this  here)

Key environmental strategies include maximising urban cooling, ensuring new developments adopt water sensitive urban design principles including stormwater, harvesting, water recycling and reuse. The use of precinct wide integrated water management systems, including water sourced from tri-generation power systems, are also outlined.

The plan also aims to reduce built environment greenhouse gas emissions, recommending the use of recycled materials during construction of new developments.

On-site renewable and low emission energy generation, such as solar hot water, photovoltaic cells, wind powered turbines or combined heat and power generation systems are also recommended for all new developments.

In terms of the broader development of Melbourne, the new draft MSS includes the following key directions:

  • How and where the long term growth and development of the city will occur. New development will be particularly focused in areas of the city that are currently degraded and underutilised and this will repair and rejuvenate those areas. Other parts of the city such as heritage protected residential areas would remain relatively stable and maintain their existing character. The MSS defines the three types of areas in the city in terms of their capacity for growth and intensity of change as Stable Areas, Ongoing Change Areas and Urban Renewal Areas.
  • Significant transport initiatives are proposed including the Melbourne Metro rail line, the Regional Rail Link, the East Link Westgate Bridge Alternative and the Melbourne Metropolitan Freight Terminal. The MSS factors in the existing and proposed transport infrastructure with the projected land development of the City, particularly in the Urban Renewal Areas and to a lesser extent in the Ongoing Change areas.
  • The importance of good building design and co-ordinating this with a well designed public realm – waterfronts, parks, plazas, streets and lanes.
  • A framework for the future growth and development of the City to be energy efficient, low carbon and adapted against the impacts of climate change predicted to include water shortages, heatwaves, sea level rise and more frequent extreme storm events.
  • A strategy for maintaining and enhancing the city’s valued urban heritage at the same time as accommodating growth and development.
  • Much of the urban renewal Areas and the ongoing change areas will be mixed use areas and the MSS incorporates the new perspectives of Council’s 24 Hour City Policy, in particular, the importance of all types of uses in the high density mixed use areas of the city being mutually respectful of the needs and amenity of each other.

Established in 1999, the MSS last underwent a review in 2004 when Amendment C60 introduced a new Local Policy to the Planning Scheme. Under the policy, new office buildings with a floor area of more than 5000 square metres must achieve a four star rating under the Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Star rating tool or equivalent, as well as meet a minimum 4.5 star base building rating under the Australian Buildings Greenhouse Rating Scheme and a maximum water consumption of 30 litres per day, per person using the Green Star Water Calculator.

  • New office buildings with a gross floor area of between 2500 and 5000 square metres must achieve a 4.5 star base building rating under the Australian Buildings Greenhouse Rating Scheme using the ABGR rating calculator.

Future Melbourne Committee (Planning) Chair, Peter Clarke, said the proposed plan highlighted the need for new development in areas of the city that were vacant, underutilised and requiring repair and rejuvenation.

“We are planning now for the development of our city over the next 20 years and the MSS demonstrates the approach we are taking to secure that vision for Melbourne,” Cr Clarke said.

“The MSS is about well-designed urban renewal, using land efficiently and effectively, about making this city a better place to live for years to come.

“While we are proposing change in some parts of the city, the most substantial and visible differences will only happen in specifically targeted areas. Other parts, like heritage-protected residential areas are expected to remain relatively stable.”

Future key development sites identified in the MSS include the City North, Southbank, Kensington, West Melbourne, E-Gate and Docklands precincts.

Following Future Melbourne Committee endorsement and authorisation from Victorian Planning Minister Justin Madden, a formal exhibition process will give City of Melbourne residents, businesses and other city users the chance to make submissions on the MSS.

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