Should most redevelopment be in activity centres?

Maribyrnong Rd, before redevelopment and after (from Transforming Melbourne)

I noted yesterday that Melbourne @ 5 Million envisages just over half of all new dwellings constructed between now and 2030 – about 16,000 per year – will be located within the built-up area. The rest will be built in the fringe Growth Areas.

This is a significant reduction compared to the 69% share Melbourne 2030 envisaged would be built within established areas over 2001 to 2030.

My view is that the disadvantages of sprawl are routinely exaggerated and the fringe will necessarily be an important location for some of the expected future growth.

But I think home buyers’ preference for the outer suburbs is also commonly exaggerated. I expect many fringe settlers would prefer a location closer to the centre if only the market could deliver a better space/price compromise.

I think one of the reasons they can’t find that compromise could be the Government’s policy of prioritising redevelopment to strategic locations, like activity centres and along main transport routes. Read the rest of this entry »

How much growth is going to the fringe?

Flight & Expulsion - Shows where refugees to Australia came from in 2008. Click map to see all countries, by year, back to 1988.

The Victorian Government set a target in its 2002 strategic plan, Melbourne 2030, that only 31% of new dwellings constructed between 2001 and 2030 would be located on outer suburban greenfield sites.

In fact, it envisaged that by 2030, the proportion would have fallen to just 22%.

This ambitious target reflected the conviction at the time that continued outward growth was unsustainable. The firm view was that a much higher proportion of growth would need to be accommodated within the existing built-up area.

The subsequent update released in 2008, Melbourne @ 5 Million, significantly downgraded the target.

Melbourne @ 5 Million “anticipated” that 47% of all new dwellings constructed over the next 20 years would be located in the fringe Growth Areas.

The new target simply reflected what the market was actually doing. There would be little danger now of getting caught out by a politically ambitious “stretch target”.

The most recent edition of the Government’s Residential Land Bulletin (March Qtr, 2010) indicates how prescient the authors of Melbourne @ 5 Million were. It shows that exactly 47% of dwelling approvals in the preceding twelve months were located in the Growth Areas.

But if you think we need less development in the outer suburbs and more in the inner and middle ring suburbs, it gets worse. Read the rest of this entry »