Urban sprawl: The new land release raises concerns of a glut of housing lots ready for development. Photo: Erin Jonasson
THE Baillieu government is set to open up thousands of hectares of green wedge and farmland for housing on the metropolitan fringe, adding to a glut of Melbourne housing lots ready for development.
Planning minister Matthew Guy will today unveil long-awaited plans to extend Melbourne's urban boundary in growth areas including in the cities of Casey, Whittlesea, Hume, Melton and Wyndham. About 7000 hectares is likely to be taken into the urban area in coming weeks under government policies known as ''logical inclusions'', and a separate review of green wedge ''anomalies''.
It will be the fourth time the boundary has been shifted since the Bracks government introduced it in 2002, promising to put an end to urban sprawl.
The Coalition government would not discuss details of today's announcement yesterday, however a leaked copy of recommendations by the high-level Logical Inclusions Advisory Committee reveals recommendations to the minister to:
■include 14 new fringe areas across eight municipalities totalling more than 6000 hectares
■refer another 16 areas for possible future review in line with the Coalition's promise to review the boundary every two years
■reject requests for the inclusion of 11 areas in five municipalities
■reject the City of Casey's request to excise from the metropolitan area a market garden area at North Clyde in the City of Casey, rezoned urban by the Brumby government
Mr Guy has indicated he will follow the recommendations of the expert panel after a complex process that included initial assessment and recommendations by the government's Growth Areas Authority.
Despite being equivalent to about 3500 MCGs of green wedge and farm land, the Coalition's first boundary review is a relatively small extension compared to the Brumby government's inclusion of almost 40,000 hectares in 2009-2010. The planning minister at the time, Justin Madden, said there would be no need for another boundary review in his lifetime.
Today's announcement will be welcomed by development groups, many of which have been calling for more land releases. However, the addition to Melbourne's suburban land supply comes at a time when the property industry is already struggling to sell lots.
A new report by leading property researchers Oliver Hume says that outer Melbourne is facing a land supply glut, with a record high of up to 200,000 lots to be ready for development in 2013/2014.
It points out that Victoria's population growth has slowed dramatically since 2009, and fringe land prices have plunged with it.
''This year a record 142 land projects will compete for a dwindling number of sales,'' said Oliver Hume head of research, Andrew Perkins.
''Put simply, further release of land for urban development in the current climate is debatable,'' he said.
The Labor opposition yesterday attacked the expansion as an unnecessary assault on green wedge and farming land that would benefit some landowners, developers and property industry lobbyists who had contributed to the Liberal Party.
''Mr Baillieu must explain the curious timing of a decision that allows Liberal Party mates to benefit from turning our open space into a concrete jungle,'' said planning spokesman, Brian Tee.