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Government shifts green wedge boundary

Urban sprawl: The new land release raises concerns of a glut of housing lots ready for development.

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.

114 comments so far

  • This is another politically easy and weak decision by this government. We already have enough problems offering infrastructure to the outer fringes, plus we are increasingly eroding our local food bowl and the ability to support ourselves. Developers greasing the palms of government no doubt.

    When will a government have the foresight to make sensible decisions ?

    Commenter
    Just Cos
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    June 13, 2012, 7:08AM
    • I agree. Matthew Guy has a "slash and burn" ideology and this is not good for Melbourne.

      Commenter
      James
      Date and time
      June 13, 2012, 8:57AM
    • “…another politically easy and weak decision…?” Maybe not? Where else will the extra million people arriving in Melbourne be settled in the near future?

      Commenter
      Oz
      Location
      CAD
      Date and time
      June 13, 2012, 9:01AM
    • "Where else will the extra million people arriving in Melbourne be settled in the near future?"

      Ah, so your only vision is to put future growth out in the fringes, rather than increasing housing density in EXISTING key areas and building proper infrastructures in EXISTING suburbs to support further population growth.

      Commenter
      T
      Date and time
      June 13, 2012, 9:32AM
    • @Oz..

      Maybe in Adelaide? or Bendigo? Ballarat? Geelong?

      If we follow your line of thought Oz, these places will eventually be a suburb of Melbourne anyway, so they can settle there now.

      I live in the country. Melbourne became insufferable to me 7 or 8 years ago. I cannot countenance the thought of another million people in there with ZERO additions to transport infrastructure.

      "Sustainable Growth" is an Oxymoron.

      Commenter
      Hanging Judge Jeffries
      Location
      Wirruppa Hill - Central VIC
      Date and time
      June 13, 2012, 9:40AM
    • There is one question I would like the AGE to follow up on behalf of Victorians (and for the rest of Australia as well). IS ANY OF THIS LAND A FLOOD PLAIN?
      Was any of the 2009/10 land also flood affected? We've seen repeated graphic footage of the flooding of many parts of Victoria on the TV in the last month. The previous State Govts (of any persuasion) and Local Govts have created a millstone around the necks of our children and their descendants by approving housing on known flood plains. Remember the "flood levy"? Poor planning and knee jerk rezoning has led to more than 20% of Australian housing built since WW2 to be flood affected. That is going to waste resources, cost lives through the direct (drowning) effects as well as the indirect impact from the money being taken from other areas to clean up after the next flood, give $5,000 or $22,000 (largest single handout from one source mentioned in Qld from Google search) to the "victims" who did not insure themselves because it cost too much.
      The money diverted to treat the symptoms (flooded houses, schools, hospitals etc) would be better off curing the disease rather than prolonging it.

      So, the questions is - Are any of these new "housing zones" actually "FLOOD housing zones"?

      Commenter
      Researcher
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      June 13, 2012, 9:43AM
    • And the alternative is what? Proposals to build any sort of medium/ high density housing in existing areas are always kyboshed by NIMBY's, e.g. proposals to turn Moonee Valley or Caulfield racecourses into high density housing - NIMBY.....high rise proposal for Box Hill...NIMBY.......There are only so many people who want to live in a flat......sorry apartment......Here's an idea... maybe turn those big blocks in Toorak, Kew, Brighton and Camberwell into units...Why should one have 1250 sq meters plus of land with tennis courts and swimming pools so close to town?

      Commenter
      shemp
      Location
      melb
      Date and time
      June 13, 2012, 9:45AM
    • Researcher,

      I can’t answer your question directly because I don’t have maps for the latest attack on our green wedges, but I can tell you that the Board of Works used flood plain information when it determined the green wedges 40 years ago. The maps for flooding are in its metropolitan planning strategy book published in 1971. The current Bozo government wouldn’t have a clue abut urban planning, so it probably hasn’t bothered to consult the comprehensive work prepared by people who did.

      Commenter
      Chris Curtis
      Date and time
      June 13, 2012, 10:06AM
    • Under Kennett's govt. Ted Baillieu was a director of the real estate firm Baillieu Knight Frank that managed some of the school sales. (Age, November 22, 2010) Given this the public have every right to know if the Premier or any of his family or political and real estate cohorts are likely to benefit from selling off more public land.

      Commenter
      Lou
      Date and time
      June 13, 2012, 12:19PM
    • Completely Agree it's a weak and short term thinking from a minister who last week was quoted as saying that planning decisions made today shouldn't be relevant for the next 100 years (in relation to Waterfront development).

      If Wallan will be a suburb of Melbourne, soon enough, you'll be able to walk across to Sydney for lunch.

      Commenter
      Sam
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      June 13, 2012, 1:29PM

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