Plan Melbourne blueprint reveals huge population prediction for city

The Age: Plan Melbourne blueprint reveals huge population prediction for city. May 19, 2014. Deborah Gough, Reporter for The Age

Melbourne’s population is expected to grow to 7.7 million by 2051 – 1.2 million more than the state government said it would just seven months ago.

Premier Denis Napthine and Planning Minister Matthew Guy have released the final version of Plan Melbourne – a blueprint for planning the metropolitan area.

The revised figure and hundreds of submissions are widely blamed for the delaying the plan.

The original blueprint was released in October, with the city’s population tipped to grow to 6.5 million, up from 4.25 million.

The mistake threw out figures on jobs, homes and transport needs into the future.

Under the blueprint released on Monday, Melbourne’s southern suburbs would have the highest population growth with up to 480,000 more people living in the area by 2031. While the neighbouring eastern suburbs region will have the lowest growth of up to 200,000 by 2031.

Mr Guy said Victoria and Melbourne would continue to grow.

“My generation is having more children than our parents,” Mr Guy said.

“My parents are living longer than their parents, there are people coming from overseas to this country. There are larger factors that didn’t exist 10 or 15 years ago,” he said. “We need to manage that into the future.”

Among the blueprint “directions” is the East West Link, the upgrade of Western Port Highway to freeway standard to link the Port of Hastings to Melbourne, and the construction of the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel.

The state government recently announced plans to abandon Parkville’s planned railway station as part of the metropolitan rail tunnel, instead realigning it with a new station at Fishermans Bend. But the updated Plan Melbourne adds a potential station at Parkville as part of a long-awaited Doncaster rail line.

Under the plan, Melbourne’s central city area is expected to expand to include Fishermans Bend, Sandridge, Montague Street area, Arden-Macaulay area, Dynon Road, Parkville, the Melbourne Arts Precinct and the Jolimont corridor between Flinders Street and Richmond railway stations.

These new parts of the central city could create 300,000 jobs by 2031, the blueprint claims. The government wants to rezone parts of these areas to allow for more mixed-use zones, to encourage small and start-up businesses.

Sunshine, East Werribee and La Trobe (near the university) would join Monash, Parkville and Dandenong South as national employment clusters with “knowledge jobs” and nationally significant businesses.

The blueprint flags Toolern Vale, near Melton, and Lockerbie, north of Craigieburn, as future metropolitan activity centres in the same ilk as Dandenong, Footscray, Fountain Gate-Narre Warren, Epping, Sunshine, Ringwood, Broadmeadows, Box Hill and Frankston.

Mr Guy said some councils from these existing activity centres had requested height limits of “20 to 30 storeys” for Footscray, 20 storeys for Box Hill, 10 for Frankston and Greensborough up to six storeys.

Dr Napthine said Victoria’s population was growing at 2 per cent compared to the national average of 1.8 per cent and higher than New South Wales at 1.5 per cent.

Mr Guy said Plan Melbourne was one of nine growth blueprints for the state with eight others either launched or in the pipeline.

Mr Guy said the plan created a “permanent” boundary for metropolitan Melbourne and was part of plan to grow in regional cities.

“We cannot have planning policies that simply focus on Melbourne alone … and grow an enormous city-state at the expense of regional Victoria,” he said.

A new planning body would be created, known as the Metropolitan Planning Authority.

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