The Melbourne Urbanist is a site for discussion about key issues in planning and development, particularly in my city, Melbourne, Australia. If there is a theme to this site, it is that the data should come first and the development of policies should come second, based on an objective and considered interpretation of what the facts indicate. A lot of what passes for progressive policy in urban planning is in my view reactionary and ideological. For example, I am very much persuaded that climate change is a serious and imminent issue however I think that some of the touted solutions are at best misguided and at worst counter-productive.

Please feel free to comment on issues in fields such as urban transport, housing, environment, planning, culture and society. Comments should be polite – you may disagree with me or others, but don’t be disagreeable (this and this might be enlightening). Be aware that posts on this blog are regularly republished elsewhere with my permission e.g. Crikey, Online Opinion.

The Melbourne Urbanist is Dr Alan Davies, a principal of Melbourne-based economic and planning consultancy, Pollard Davies Pty Ltd. You can contact me privately on davipoll@bigpond.net.au

The graphic shows the sixteen tallest buildings in Melbourne.  The tallest, the magnificent Eureka Tower by that quintessentially Melbourne architect Nonda Katsalidis (Fender Katsalidis), was reputedly the highest residential building in the world at the time of completion. Finished in 2006, it is 91 floors and 300 metres high.

20 Comments on “ABOUT”

  1. Emma says:

    Congrats on the blog Alan, it’s good to see a summary of what’s happening on the Melbourne planning front – with useful links.

  2. Julia Burns says:

    Who doesn’t love Melbourne? But how refreshing to find a site that presents intelligent and stimulating discussion on what’s happening in our urban world. Melbourne leads the way in Australia, as its international live-ability ranking atests but why can’t we have this kind of discussion and intelligent thinking in other Australian cities. Dr Davies …please can we have the Perth Urbanist – we sadly need it!

  3. Tom Dixon says:

    Don’t know why you think this blog was even necessary … when has Australia ever been lacking in this department?!

  4. Tom Dixon says:

    … But nonetheless great to see someone with a mind like a steel trap on the job in this regard!

  5. Jim Wells says:

    Enjoy your web site.

    Do you issue regular emails?

    Have ticked second box

  6. Moss says:

    Hi Alan, I would be interested to hear your thoughts about Toolern: http://www.butterpaper.com/cms/news/1523/new-town-old-ideas

    • Alan Davies says:

      That’s a timely question.Fact is I’ve already written a longish piece for Australian Design Review on this very topic that will be published next in the August issue. So I feel duty-bound to keep my/their powder dry for the moment. I’ll look at it here after ADR’s been published.

      Do you have any particular thoughts on it yourself?

      • Moss says:

        Of course!
        However, only this for the moment: “a lack of vision that would shame a sardine in a tin”.
        I look forward to your article.

  7. Bruce Dickson says:

    Want to heartily congratulate you Alan on the rapid progress you have made with your excellent blog since its commencement only a relatively short time ago. Particularly impressed by how fresh you keep it and how thorough you aim to be with each new (daily) post! Not giving into the temptation to toss some loose opinions around in your haste to add new material like many others. The topics and questions posed are also normally possessive of potential wider lay and not just specialist appeal and interest. Either see a bit of truly provocative content entering here and there which should build even more response.

    Anyway, feel you are really adding some value to the public debate over such (often underestimated) important community and planning issues and the blog has confirmed its importance in this regard already.

    Hope the content gains wider circulation over time when rightfully picked up by other mainstream media outlets who can only benefit from making use of your expertise and incisive thinking on so many key matters of public interest.

    Well done.

  8. jack horner says:

    Very interesting blog. Housekeeping suggestion: it would be good to have the date at the top of the post instead of the bottom. Best Regards

    • Alan Davies says:

      Thanks Jack. It seems I’m locked into the format of the theme I’m using. The location of the date probably could be changed from the bottom to the top (I agree it would make more sense) if I had the necessary technical knowledge but I don’t.

  9. Siobhan says:

    I’ve recently found your blog, thanks to Twitter, and am enjoying it immensely.
    I thought you may be interested to hear about a recent development in Brunswick. A community furore was sparked by a permit being issued for an 11 story building near the corner of Albert St. It seems the councillor with the planning portfolio and the head of planning between them are much more in favour of height than local residents are. Residents have now mobilised, and council has moved to limit new approvals to 7 stories. But that one was already through.
    Now, the property is back on the market, with the developer set to make a killing on cheap airspace rights. Meanwhile, Brunswick residents can look forward to higher densities and higher land prices without any attempt to extract a quid pro quo for streetscapes, open space etc.

  10. Riccardo says:

    Agree 200% that data should come first before policy.

    But data on what?

    I read comments of yours on this blog like “people don’t want to live in apartments”. Evidence? Straw poll? Small sample of 1?

    If people don’t want to live in apartments why are so many being built, and worse, bought, and even more bizarrely, lived in? If that were true they would be all empty.

    • Alan Davies says:

      Now that’s not true Riccardo. Where I’ve made a comment like that the context shows that I’m talking specifically about households (mostly families) that have gone to the fringe and arguing that apartments are not their preferred alternative.

      And I’ve referenced a number of data sources like the Residential Supply Bulletin and the Annual Report of the Urban Development Program to show where housing of different types is being built.

      The focus of apartment construction activity in Melbourne is within the inner city – especially in and around the CBD – and being sold to households without dependents, especially young professionals.

  11. Siobhan says:

    I have begun a big fan of your blog – researched, clearly argued and well written.
    There is an election promise I have become curious about that I think is right up your alley.
    I was wondering if you might care to explore the question of Baillieu’s promise to deliver 40 new trains. I have gleaned that this only means 7 in the first term. Also that the usual definition of ‘a train’ when you buy them is an engine + 2 carriages, but most services in Melbourne consist of 2 of these, so 7 ‘trains’ might actually equal 3.5 trains reaching a platform.
    And if I remember right, they are to built in Victoria.
    How ready are we to build trains? How quickly can we tool up? Are they likely to be reliable enough, or some equipped with embarrassing teething problems as seems often to happen. And most importantly, what impact can 3.5 trains over 4 years (or whatever the correct answer is) have on service levels.

    Hope this gives you food for thought, as I would love to read the result.

    • Alan Davies says:

      The Sunday Age confirms your understanding that only 7 of the 40 trains promised by the Baillieu Government will appear in the first term. Depends if I have the time, but I’d like to follow this up. In the meantime, I understand that the trains ordered by the Brumby Government some time ago have already started arriving.

  12. alan
    crikey.com.au has been publishing your thoughts for a few months now – i have enjoyed them and finally subscribed directly – keep up the good work

  13. Timothy Rowe says:

    Hi Alan great blog, I’ve only just discovered it but very nice work!!

    Would you be interested in sharing my petition to save the 447 Collin st twin tower development and potentially thousands of future construction jobs in Melbourne?

    It’s linked here


    Warm regards
    Tim Rowe

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