Fashion, sport, music, hipster-culture, coffee, lanes, trams, theatre and the riverside. They are the things that have made Melbourne one of the world’s most livable cities and the epitome of modern urbanism.
As Australia’s cultural and sporting capital, Melbourne hosts important global and national events: the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix, Melbourne Fashion Week, the Australian Open tennis tournament, the Melbourne Cup, the Australian Football League Grand Final and the Boxing Day Cricket Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Melbourne’s excellent venues make it a priority stop for the global arts — theater, music and dance — while the city also supports a thriving local arts sector.
Melbourne is also a fast-growing city. High national and international immigration has it on track to supersede Sydney as Australia’s largest city by mid-century. Like all of Australia’s major cities it has a heavy reliance on private motor vehicles for mobility. However, the investment in Melbourne Metro and other major infrastructure projects will see an uplift in public transport patronage.The city faces housing affordability challenges, albeit less pronounced than other cities with such high livability.
Governance in Melbourne follows a familiar pattern of fragmentation between disparate local councils and the state government, with cooperation between levels of government needed for effective implementation of land use and transport planning.
Melbourne has cemented its place as a leading city for people and is on the journey of creating places and infrastructure that will continue to make it the choice for citizens and visitors.
The population of greater Melbourne is growing at a faster rate than Sydney. Should present trends continue, it could usurp Sydney as Australia’s biggest metropolis by mid-century. One reason is that land supply is less constrained, particularly on the urban fringe, and therefore house prices are comparatively lower. Housing provision opportunities in the inner and middle-ring suburbs must be realized to ensure that Melbourne grows in a sustainable manner.
The overarching planning document dealing with housing is Plan Melbourne 2017-2050. One of the key recommendations is for Melbourne to provide housing choice in locations close to jobs and services. For this to happen, Melbourne will need to:
Manage the supply of new housing in the right locations to meet population growth and create a sustainable city
Foster more housing closer to jobs and public transport
Increase the supply of social and affordable housing
Facilitate decision-making processes for housing in the right locations
Provide greater choice and diversity of housing
Direction 2.3 of Plan Melbourne looks to increase the supply of social and affordable housing by utilizing government land and streamlining decision-making processes for social housing proposals; strengthen the role of planning in facilitating and supplying social and affordable housing; and create ways to capture and share value uplift from rezonings.
The Victorian Government has introduced policy and legislative measures to strengthen the role of planning. The Homes for Victorians policy document outlines a series of measures to increase the supply of social and affordable homes. Both Plan Melbourne and Homes for Victorians policy documents stop short of setting housing targets, instead devolving responsibility for setting those targets to councils. There is no guidance on housing targets by region to meet and balance the projected housing demand, bringing into question the city’s ability to grow sustainably.
The Victorian Government has introduced changes to the Planning and Environment Act 1987 to give a clear legislative framework and definition on the matter. The changes that came into effect on 1 June 2018 include a new objective “to facilitate the provision of affordable housing”, a definition of affordable housing, and confirmation that a responsible authority “may enter into an agreement with an owner of land for the development or provision of land in relation to affordable housing”.
Melbourne is renowned for its diverse and high-quality public realm. The city has a wide variety including bustling city center streets, vibrant lanes and generous parkland across the city’s inner-, middle- and outer-ring suburbs.
Plan Melbourne sees a need to adopt a placemaking planning approach to raise the standard of urban design of public places the city’s suburbs. This includes adopting a more focused approach to strengthen the design quality of public spaces and the interfaces between private development and the public domain. The region plans do provide some spatial overview of the public open space provision for each region.
The responsibility for delivery of this ambition within the Urban Growth Boundary is primarily devolved to councils and the mechanisms for implementation are not clearly outlined. The Victorian Planning Authority also has a remit (of sorts) to define the public realm through the precinct structure planning process for those precincts deemed to be of strategic importance to the city.
Detailed design of public realm is left to local authorities and/or developers who are managed through the planning process. Planning controls have been tightened in recent years to ensure that good design outcomes for the public realm are realized in consultation with the community and local authority.
Within the Urban Growth Boundary, the region plans provide some spatial overview of the public open space and water’s edge parkland. There is no specific emphasis on urban green space.
Plan Melbourne also supports some green space policy initiatives, including:
Improving neighbourhoods to enable walking and cycling as a part of daily life
Developing a network of accessible, high-quality, local open spaces
Supporting community gardens and productive streetscapes
Victoria’s 30-year Infrastructure Strategy also includes a recommendation to increase the amount and quality of green infrastructure in an urban setting to support a range of outcomes, including creating open space for planned and incidental exercise, improving biodiversity by increasing forested and planted areas and supporting water-sensitive design to mitigate flooding. As with the public realm, responsibility for delivery of urban green space sits with councils. The City of Melbourne, for example, aims to establish an urban forest that will be resilient, healthy and diverse, and will contribute to the health and wellbeing of the community. Plan Melbourne does identify the green wedges and peri-urban areas outside the urban growth boundary that are to be preserved.
A range of recommendations in Victoria’s 30-year Infrastructure Strategy deal with meeting the community’s changing needs from a social infrastructure perspective. These include education, sport and cultural, education, healthcare and childcare infrastructure.
Plan Melbourne addresses the need to invest in social infrastructure and wants to see a whole-of-government approach: the creation of health and education precincts to support neighbourhoods; support not-for-profit community services to build social capital and stronger communities; and the provision and protection of land for cemeteries and crematoria.
The Victorian Government is spending on school infrastructure but arguably this is more reactive than proactive. All policy documents would like schools’ infrastructure demand management to be more proactive.
Melbourne has several world-recognized universities and each is expanding in partnership with government and industry in planned innovation precincts for health, engineering and science, which is aligned with strategic investment in new infrastructure.
The Victorian Climate Change Framework identifies the importance of both adaptation and the removal of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the state economy with a target of net zero GHG emissions by 2050. The interim 2020 target is 15 to 20 per cent below 2005 levels. Reduction of emissions is being fought on four fronts: increasing energy efficiency and productivity; moving to a clean electricity supply; switching to clean fuels; and reducing non-energy emissions and increasing carbon storage. The Climate Change Framework is also integrated into a range of state policy documents and in Plan Melbourne.
Melbourne has been quite successful in its urban greening program and councils are continuing the push.
Sea level and coastal inundation risks also pose long-term climate challenges, particularly to areas earmarked for urban regeneration such as Fishermans Bend and Arden-Macaulay, the latter only three kilometers from the city. The Victorian Government is implementing preventative planning measures to try mitigating such risks.
With respect to GHG emissions, Melbourne remains exposed to an energy sector that is still dominated by coal and has lacked the key policy signals to stimulate a low-carbon energy grid.
Melbourne is experiencing unprecedented levels of public transit investment, with the construction of the first underground metro line underway and another in planning as well as the removal of rail level crossings, a rail line extension to Mernda in the north and investment in new train and tram fleets. Despite the strong level of investment, the policies and plans for the integration of land use and transport are limited in Melbourne.
Plan Melbourne 2050 sets a principle around 20-minute neighbourhoods. It aims to create accessible, safe and attractive local areas where people can access most of their everyday needs within a 20-minute walk, cycle or local public transport trip. The Victorian Government is currently developing subregional integrated transport plans that will align with the regions within Plan Melbourne; however, they were not available at the time of writing.
Melbourne has a truly multimodal public transit network, including an established train, tram and bus network that is continuing to expand to meet the sprawling growth corridors and increased densities in the inner- and middle-ring suburbs.
High-speed rail continues to be the only missing piece of the public transit network and remains under consideration.
A Victorian Freight Plan is currently being developed by the Victorian Government, which is expected to evaluate existing strategies and outline the government’s future policy, regulatory and infrastructure initiatives.
The Port of Melbourne was leased in 2016 to a private consortium for 50 years and further capacity enhancements are planned to increase container handling by at least 1 million containers per annum at Webb Dock.
The West Gate Tunnel project is under construction and will provide an alternative river crossing to the West Gate Bridge, redirecting trucks off the bridge and providing better access to the Port of Melbourne.
An inland rail freight corridor is planned to connect Tottenham to Albury as part of the Victorian section of the corridor and will include enhancements of existing structures and increased clearances along the rail corridor.
Access to Melbourne’s global gateways via air and sea is being enhanced through planning and development of projects that will support the strong forecast growth. The curfew-free Melbourne Airport provides benefits to available capacity, which is something that is being protected to secure the future capacity of the airport.
Planning is underway for the development of a third runway at Melbourne Airport, to increase the overall capacity of the airport to meet the strong forecast growth. Detailed planning and technical studies have begun, as well as community engagement to guide the development of the Runway Development Program. Melbourne Airport is also in the process of preparing their next five-year master plan, which will be submitted to the Commonwealth Government by 18 December 2018.
As discussed above, capacity enhancements are also underway at the Port of Melbourne to meet the increasing demand in container handling.
The Victorian Cycling Strategy 2018-2028, released last year, sets out a vision for the future of cycling in the state and ways to deliver it. The construction of new shared pathways forms a key part of major road projects in Victoria but limited funding was allocated to walking/cycling projects in the 2018-19 State Budget.
Businesses are looked on to provide end-of-trip facilities, but there are no planning requirements in place. The Victorian Cycling Strategy wants to see action from city councils in amending planning provisions to place greater emphasis on these facilities being provided in new commercial/residential buildings.
The City of Melbourne has successfully trialed a pedestrian-only zone on Elizabeth Street in the city and this work is now funded. The City of Yarra is trialing low-speed zones in Fitzroy and Collingwood.
The City of Melbourne is investigating policy changes that would affect the provision of parking in new buildings in the central business district (CBD) and Southbank. The policy proposals would require all new buildings to have underground car parks or, where this is not achievable because of soil conditions, car parking should be constructed in a way that leaves open the option of later residential use.
There is no link between parking policy and public transport, but the City of Melbourne charges a parking levy for each off-street space within the CBD and areas of inner Melbourne, which is used to help fund road and public transport projects.
Currently there are no plans or strategies about the building code requirements related to car park design suitability for adaptive future use.
The Victorian Government legalized Uber in 2018, imposing an AUD1 levy on all commercialized trips. It also required Uber drivers to be accredited with the Taxi Services Commission.
Victoria operates on-demand bus services, which allow bookings to be made online or via the phone. Ride-sharing services such as car-pooling have been investigated and implemented through green travel plans and the Uber pool ride-sharing service is expected to begin in Melbourne this year after being trialed in Sydney.
The City of Melbourne has an approved policy for 2,000 car-share spaces to be installed by 2021 and other inner Melbourne councils also provide car-sharing services.
Transport for Victoria has a policy on connected and automated vehicles within the state and a trial is under way on the Monash Freeway-CityLink-Tullamarine Freeway corridor through a partnership between the Victorian Government and Transurban. The first phase of the trial looked at how partially automated vehicles react to the motorway environment; the second and third phases focus on vehicles with higher levels of connectivity and automation.
The City of Melbourne has no policy on electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority has a policy in place on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, such as drones.
Well-developed physical and digital infrastructures affect productivity directly by connecting economic agents, reducing transaction costs, easing the effects of distance and time, facilitating the flow of information, and facilitating integration of markets into global value chains. Information and communication technologies are becoming increasingly important because there is a growing empirical literature that they facilitate innovation and lift company and country productivity by giving decision-makers more complete information.
The City of Melbourne’s Knowledge City Strategy and Melbourne as a Smart City outline a comprehensive community, environmental and economic strategy to design, develop and test the best ways for people to live, work and play in Melbourne.
The city sees that innovations in technology will have a role to play in creating and enhancing these experiences.
The creation of the Knowledge Strategy and a suite of initiatives including CityLab, Open Innovation Competitions, Open Data, free Wi-Fi, a 24-hour pedestrian counting system and smart bins are all indicators of the maturity of Melbourne’s approach to using technology to improve their citizens’ lives.
None of the benefits to citizens will be realized without scalable, secure, robust and reliable underlying technology infrastructure.
Traditionally, internet services have been provided via copper wires initially designed to support landlines. Fiber optic cable is replacing these copper wires in most countries because it can support much higher bandwidth for multiple users than the copper wires. It's made from glass and uses light to transmit data over long distances. Fiber is essential to support both consumers and businesses as the world becomes more dependent on the ability to receive and transmit large volumes of rich media content and information.
Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) is superior to Fiber-to-the-Node (FTTN). The latter uses copper wires from the street to the business or home and fiber to the street only. The existence or plan to install either version of fiber is a critical element in facilitating digital connectivity.
Each new generation of cellular technologies has brought us greater functionality available in more places with ever faster access to information. In almost all cases these improvements have been accompanied by decreasing access and usage costs resulting in mobile devices becoming an essential and ubiquitous tool for communications, content digestion and content creation. The introduction of 5G will give wireless broadband the capacity to power thousands of connected devices that will reach our homes and workplaces.
Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) is a Low Power Wide Area Network radio technology standard developed to enable a wide range of devices and services to be connected using cellular telecommunications bands. It is the backbone of the IoT. NB-IoT focuses specifically on indoor coverage, low-cost, long battery life, and enabling many connected devices. The move towards autonomous vehicles and connected infrastructure will make reliable, robust access and connectivity essential.
As more people and devices are being connected and depend on the internet, the complementary wireless technologies of 5G and NB-IoT will become redefined as part and parcel of our critical infrastructure.
The availability of Wi-Fi is essential for both personal and business applications. Many cities recognize this and provide free public Wi-Fi access both through commercial providers such as telcos and businesses as well as by the responsible authorities themselves. Regardless of who is providing the free public Wi-Fi, access and availability enables citizens and visitors to easily access a range of services at no cost.
Free Wi-Fi is provided throughout the City of Melbourne.
Open Data relies on the idea that some data should be freely available for everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control. There is a global movement in developed countries for governments at all levels to make their vast amounts of public data freely available as open data.
Making government information available to the public as open data can facilitate government transparency, accountability and public participation. The opening of official information can also support technological innovation and economic growth by enabling third parties to develop new kinds of digital applications and services.
Open government applications seek to empower citizens, to help small businesses, or to create value in some other positive, constructive way. The City of Melbourne, Victorian Government and the Australian Government all provide open government data.
Citizens using services, especially government services, must have confidence that any information they provide is confidential and stored appropriately, that the system they’re using is safe and secure, that they know how their information will be used and that they can easily retrieve any information they provide. If a service cannot guarantee confidentiality, integrity and availability of the system, people will not use it.
The presence of strong legislative and regulatory forms of protection for data security and privacy is essential to sustain confidence and usage of online sites and information. Australia and the Victorian Government have comprehensive security and privacy legislation.
Melbourne’s documented A Knowledge City Strategy and Melbourne as a Smart City provide the overarching framework for digital initiatives. Technology is dealt with in the A Knowledge City Strategy and is an enabler of knowledge. The strategy does not provide a comprehensive view on technology infrastructure.
Like all cities on Australia’s east coast, Melbourne is hampered in its energy sector response by a policy gridlock that has dominated national politics for more than a decade. The energy grid in Victoria is predominantly fed by coal-fired power stations, with the Clean Energy Regulator rating Victoria as the third highest emitter of CO2 by volume in Australia in 2016 to 2017. However, this is changing as the oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power stations are earmarked for closure, with the most recent being the Hazelwood Power Station in Victoria.
Policy uncertainty on climate change mitigation has led to an under-investment in new generation infrastructure to replace aging power stations. However, the consensus view is Australia will meet its Renewable Energy Target obligations of 33,000 GWh by 2020. The Victorian Government has committed the state to renewable energy generation targets of 25 per cent by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2025.
The private sector in Victoria has led innovation in the energy sector, with rooftop solar systems common and micro-grids and a smartening of the grid. This innovation is often despite, rather than incentivized by, the regulatory environment.
In 2016, the City of Melbourne released its Emissions Reduction Plan: For Our Operations. This highlights steps in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Melbourne City Council has linked its targets to meet or exceed the minimum 1.5 degrees Celsius science-based target from the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The council has also been investing directly through its Melbourne Renewable Energy Project to buy power from a wind farm development in Victoria.
Melbourne’s water sector consists of government-owned statutory authorities with boards appointed by the state’s Water Minister. They are a bulk water and sewerage business (Melbourne Water) and three metropolitan retailers (City West Water, South East Water and Yarra Valley Water). Melbourne Water also provides waterway and drainage services across the metropolitan area and bulk water to adjacent regional businesses.
Melbourne urban water businesses are subject to regulation of drinking water (by the Department of Health and Human Services), wastewater effluent disposal standards (by the Environment Protection Authority) and pricing arrangements and customer service standards (Essential Services Commission).
Beyond the requirements of pure regulation, the Melbourne water businesses embrace the philosophy of livability, whereby they focus on the health of the community by providing safe and secure drinking water, reliable sanitation and effective flood management. To be long lasting and resilient, a water utility within a livable city must consider the needs of future generations and use systems thinking to understand and respond to shocks and long-term change while engaging with the community on projects that deliver community benefit today, aligned with their customer-focused operation and services.
The sector was hit by the Millennium Drought in the mid-to-late 2000s. Almost all Victorians faced water restrictions and some smaller towns required water carting. Major assets were subsequently constructed to provide additional water security, including the Victorian Desalination Plant (450 megalitres a day at a cost of CAD3.23 billion), the Sugarloaf Pipeline (to connect Melbourne to the Goulburn System), the Wimmera Mallee pipeline, a Melbourne to Geelong pipeline, and a pipeline between the Ballarat and Bendigo systems that accesses the Goulburn system.
Growth in urban water usage is low in most areas. Recent reductions in urban demand (particularly for non-residential use) mean that urban water use is generally lower than it was 10 years ago. However, with projected climate change and a doubling in Melbourne's population by 2065, projections are that an increase in consumption might result in the city starting to run out of water within a decade. To combat this possibility, the Melbourne water businesses are investing in obtaining more water from alternative supplies such as recycled water and treated stormwater and ground water.
Waste management in Melbourne is operated by the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG). It brings together the waste strategy and initiative goals of the 31 metropolitan councils. Working with other state departments, MWRRG has developed a plan that provides a roadmap to shape Melbourne’s network of waste and resource recovery infrastructure for the next 30 years. Like many other major cities, Melbourne is seeking to educate its population about waste to change perceptions and capitalize on a readily available resource. As part of this initiative an education strategy has been developed to supplement the Metropolitan Implementation Plan (MIP) to support the community and business.
It is acknowledged within the MIP that landfill continues to be an acceptable waste disposal mechanism for certain waste types. Biodegradable waste is not acceptable for landfill and some strategic initiatives have been developed that target the removal of biodegradable products, such as food, from the waste stream.
Many of Melbourne’s landfills are aging with 13 expected to close during the next 10 years and a total of 16 during the next 30 years. This leaves four significant landfills to meet Melbourne’s needs in the long-term. These landfills can accept putrescible waste with one also licensed to accept prescribed industrial waste.
These landfills are of state importance and critical waste infrastructure for the entire metropolitan Melbourne region. Closure of any of these major landfills would result in insufficient landfill supply and would require new replacement facilities to be established. At this stage, additional landfill construction is not anticipated and MWRRG is looking towards improved waste management technology to cover potential shortfalls.
Considerable effort and financial commitment is being made to maintain Melbourne’s livability status with a focus on achieving maximum resource recovery for the growing population. Linking the state Infrastructure Development Plan, Metropolitan Planning Strategy (Plan Melbourne 2017 to 2050), the MIP and the subsequent role out of supporting guidance such as the Guide to Best Practice for Waste Management in Multi-unit Developments (revised March 2017) via Sustainability Victoria has added to a coordinated and cohesive plan for future waste planning in Melbourne.