Council has its say over state-wide infrastructure

Council has its say over state-wide infrastructure

By Jess Carrascalao Heard

The City of Melbourne has had its first say on the Victorian Government’s draft 30-year Infrastructure Strategy, after the Future Melbourne Committee (FMC) endorsed the council’s submission at a meeting earlier this month.

The submission, which looks at the state- wide strategy through a City of Melbourne policy lens, offers several amendments and rec- ommendations on the likes of climate change mitigation, water management, transport development and future housing affordability.

It also highlights key opportunities for fast-tracking existing projects to help miti- gate the economic impact of COVID-19, and advocates for sustained funding of the devel- opment of the CBD as a significant state- and nation-wide economic driver.

Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece de- scribed the central city as “the engine of the Victorian economy”.

“The development of the central city is abso- lutely crucial to the health of the entire state, and indeed, the nation, in terms of research, ed- ucation, high productivity, jobs, innovation and Australia’s most important business cluster,” he said.

In the submission, one of the key oppor- tunities identified for immediate action was investment in “foundational and catalytic infra- structure” for the urban renewal areas of Arden, Macaulay and Fishermans Bend.

The council said that new infrastructure in those areas needed to address issues including flood mitigation, integrated water manage- ment, open space acquisition and key transport connections.

Transport plans would include a tram exten- sion to Fishermans Bend, which would decrease the need for car parking in future development of the area.

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“Early delivery of this infrastructure will af- fect the development outcomes in these areas – a new school encourages the market to consider family housing,” the submission stated.

Cr Reece said the submission strongly sup- ported investment and infrastructure to ensure development in urban renewal projects could continue.

“Fishermans Bend, Arden and Macaulay [are] all areas that we must see reach their full potential in the years ahead, particularly as Melbourne resumes its population growth tra- jectory,” he said.

The council has also included urban renewal as one of its proposed amendments to recom- mendation 36 in the strategy, which seeks to deliver very low-income housing with inclu- sionary zoning.

The council’s amendment stated that “higher affordable housing requirements be introduced in urban renewal areas”, recognising that the value of land could increase due to improved government infrastructure, which could, in turn, make housing unaffordable.

“A portion of the increase in land value may be captured by the government to provide pub- lic benefit. Affordable housing is an example of a public benefit,” the submission stated.

Housing is just one of several issues covered in the draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy.

The draft strategy includes 95 recommenda- tions across four key areas of consideration for future infrastructure:

• Confront long-term challenges (including the changing climate and embracing technological opportunities);

• Manage urban change (including integrating land use and infrastructure planning, and steering changes in travel behaviour);

• Harness infrastructure for productivity and growth (including shaping the transport network for better access); and

• Develop regional Victoria.

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Whether it’s on transport pricing, or housing, or renewable energ y networks, there is a lot in there that we should be amplifying.

The City of Melbourne submission has ad- dressed 70 of the 95 recommendations in the draft strategy, stating that there were “strong synergies” between the draft infrastructure strategy and the council’s existing strategies.

Transport pricing forms a number of the rec- ommendations in the draft strategy, including a trial of demand-responsive parking pricing, congestion pricing as well as an increase and ex- tension of the Melbourne Congestion Levy on parking, in a bid to encourage public transport use and reduce traffic congestion.

But also in its submission, the council rec- ommended that any increase in levy amounts should not happen until car numbers in the area reached pre-COVID levels, with the current temporary discount providing COVID relief.

The Free Tram Zone is also under threat in the draft strategy, but the council’s submission recommended that a cost-benefit analysis should be done before any changes to the Free Tram Zone were considered.

An emphasis on walking as a key mode of transport in the central city is also highlighted in the submission, with a recommendation to elevate future plans for walking as a separate mode of transport to cycling.

The transition to a greener future for the

state is also reflected in other parts of the draft strategy.

Climate change mitigation measures include ensuring water security by considering a broad- er range of water supply sources and fast-track- ing water cycle management, allowing better use of both stormwater and recycled water.

The council has pushed for these recommen- dations further by suggesting a more holistic approach, including the consideration of com- bined alternative water sources for non-potable uses, which would decrease the demand for drinking water.

Suggestions for investment in “green” and “blue infrastructure”, and the protection and incorporation of green infrastructure in trans- port corridors to support climate change adap- tion is also included in the City of Melbourne’s submission.

Speaking at the FMC meeting, Cr Rohan Leppert said that the opportunity council had been given to offer its input on the strategy was rare.

He said he hoped the council’s recommenda- tions would translate into political will at the state level to implement some of the ideas in the 30-year strategy.

“Whether it’s on transport pricing, or hous- ing, or renewable energy networks, there is a lot in there that we should be amplifying,” he said.

The City of Melbourne’s submission will form part of the feedback on the draft strategy during the current consultative phase.

The final strategy is due to be published in mid-2021 •

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