The Victorian Government plans to shift population growth to regional centres.

9 October 2013 — The Victorian Government wants to shift the state’s population growth to regional areas by creating a permanent urban growth boundary around Melbourne and “protecting the suburbs” from densification.

It will also create a Metropolitan Planning Authority to oversee urban growth.

The city planning blueprint, Plan Melbourne, which sets out the government’s vision of Melbourne to 2050, said that Victoria’s growth and liveability would be maximised through regional development, creating what the government calls a “state of cities”.

The plan sees the towns of Bacchus Marsh, Ballan, Broadford, Kilmore, Warragul-Drouin and Wonthaggi designated as new major population and employment towns for growth.

“With Victoria’s population projected to rise to 8.4 million by 2050, regional cities and towns are well-placed to take a greater share of population growth,” said planning minister Matthew Guy.

“A key initiative of Plan Melbourne is to unlock the growth potential of these cities – so they can accommodate a greater proportion of the state’s future growth – and provide good transport connections between them and Melbourne.”

Mr Guy said that low density would be a key attraction for regional areas.

“Population growth in and around these towns should not be an imitation of Melbourne’s growth area suburbs, but should offer a less crowded, lower density housing product that is more suited to regional towns,” he said.

“Larger housing lots will be a key attraction for families wanting a different lifestyle to Melbourne, and will help to maintain the country lifestyle and feel of our regional towns and cities.”

An urban growth boundary for Melbourne was a key commitment announced to shift growth to regional centres, and would also “protect Melbourne’s high value agricultural land in the outskirts of the city”.

Densification of the sprawling greater Melbourne area seems to be all but ruled out too, with the plan promising to “protect the suburbs” by only building density in “defined locations”.

“The people of Melbourne have made it clear that they want their suburbs to be protected from high-rise apartment development,” Mr Guy said. “Plan Melbourne will put in place a Neighbourhood Residential Zone to more than half of the city’s residential zoned land.”

“In achieving this outcome the majority of Melbourne’s existing suburbs will be protected from significant housing densification,” the plan states.

The plan would partly accommodate future city growth through focusing on medium- and high-density developments in defined areas in the existing urban area, such as projects in Fisherman’s Bend, Arden-Macaulay and E-Gate.

“An expanded capital city zone and a series of new urban renewal precincts will cater for a large proportion of Melbourne’s future housing needs, and provide a variety of housing close to public transport and services.”

Mr Guy said that 86 per cent of growth in Victoria had happened in Melbourne in the past decade and that a shift was needed.

“Under Plan Melbourne, by providing opportunities for decentralised population and employment growth in regional cities, we can increase their size and ability to function independently. We’re providing Victorians with more choices about where they live and work.

Key aspects of the plan include:

  • A permanent urban growth boundary will be put in place to curb urban sprawl by distributing population growth to our regions. A ‘State of Cities’ will be created as new major population and employment towns for growth across Victoria. This includes Bacchus Marsh, Ballan, Broadford, Kilmore, Warragul-Drouin and Wonthaggi.
  • At least half of Melbourne’s residential zoned land will be protected from high-rise apartment development with a Neighbourhood Residential Zone.
  • Driving the growth of the City of Melbourne as Australia’s largest jobs hub by 2040 as  major new urban renewal precincts including Fishermans Bend, E-Gate and Arden Macaulay begin and Docklands is completed.
  • Implementing the Metropolitan Planning Authority, which will play a critical role in managing and delivering Plan Melbourne along with the largest urban renewal pipeline in Victoria’s history. The Authority will be charged with working with local governments, landowners and other stakeholders in delivering many of the initiatives of Plan Melbourne as well as the structure planning of a number of new precincts.
  • Investigating a third airport for Melbourne’s South East to serve Gippsland and Melbourne’s South East. The airport would serve one-third of Victoria’s population including the 300,000 residents of Gippsland.

The strategy contains seven key outcomes:

  • Delivering jobs and investment: create a city structure that drives productivity, supports investment through certainty and creates more jobs.
  • Housing choice and affordability: provide a diversity of housing in defined locations that cater for different households and are close to jobs and services.
  • A more connected Melbourne: provide an integrated transport system connecting people to jobs and services and goods to market.
  • Liveable communities and neighbourhoods: create healthy and active neighbourhoods and maintain Melbourne’s identity as one of the world’s most liveable cities.
  • Environment and energy: protect our natural assets and better plan our water, energy and waste management to create a sustainable city.
  • A State of cities: maximise the growth potential of Victoria by developing a state of cities which delivers choice, opportunity and global competitiveness.
  • Implementation – delivering better governance: achieve clear results through better governance, planning, regulation and funding options.

The state government claims sustainable outcomes would be achieved through:

  • Delivering density in defined locations
  • Greening metropolitan areas
  • Improving energy and water supply use
  • Protecting and restoring our natural habitats
  • Making better use of transport infrastructure
  • Encouraging more active forms of transport, such as walking and cycling

Read the full plan.

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  1. I must be missing something. Wasn’t it Mr Guy and colleagues who effectively removed the previous urban sprawl limits to free up argricultural land for urban fringe housing 3 years ago?

    And how is Mr Guy planning to transport all these people to”Australia’s largest jobs hub”, when his government have rejected public transport funding in place of a single road tunnel which doesn’t connect to either the city, the outer subrubs or regional areas?

    I don’t prefer one political party over the other, but consistancy would be nice!

  2. Melbourne’s suburbs are effectively being condemned to death by this move.

    Every city and town in the world started as low density and gradually increased in plot coverage, height and intensity. That’s going to be impossible to do in Melbourne.

    Worldwide trends for young people are away from sprawling suburbs to urban living. Sprawl suburbs that can’t adapt to that trend are going to be unsaleable.

    And why is the only alternative to sprawl, ‘high rise apartment development’? You can build high density in 3 storeys.

  3. This article should be read by every NSW Politician. Melbourne is leading the way! This Victorian plan is afterall based on commonsense. Back in 2012 I made a similar suggestion to NSW Planning Department as I am sure many others have done.

    If one visits Europe or the United States this is what occurs. They
    do not have a never ending sprawl. Each village, town or city is defined with green space. Regional towns and cities allow for
    growth and employment across the State.

    One can easily join the dots …… with what is happening in NSW, can’t one?

    It appears that in NSW the minority lobby rules despite Mr O’Farrell promising before the 2011 Election that he would return planning powers to the community. What happened, Mr O’Farrell?

  4. Isn’t this media release in conflict with the objectives of this website?!!! Why are you focusing on building scale energy use/carbon emission and not at an urban scale where consumption is much greater? Why is the sprawl model still being promoted so voraciously in Australia – both in Victoria and NSW?

    Here in Europe, the suburban model is avoided – it is seen as costly, energy intensive and difficult to maintain.