Inquiry into Environmental Design and Public Health in Victoria
On Wednesday 20 June, Andrew spoke about the Environmental and Planning References Committee's report Inquiry into Environmental Design and Public Health in Victoria.
STATEMENTS ON REPORTS AND PAPERS
Wednesday, 20 June 2012.
Mr ELSBURY (Western Metropolitan) — I rise this evening to discuss the Environment and Planning References Committee report entitled Inquiry into Environmental Design and Public Health in Victoria. I have already spoken at some length about this report, and today I would just like to focus on a few points that were made in that particular report.
While the report itself was quite vigorous in the language that was used to give a reason that Victoria should move towards a greater housing density, that conviction was not conveyed in the actual recommendations that were brought down. Indeed it was skirted around quite successfully by the opposition majority members of the committee. Instead we have a half‑baked idea of encouraging greater density rather than enforcing an ideological bent towards cramming as many people as possible into an area without any consideration for the amenity of any of the new developments that are occurring in Victoria. Some very strong language was used. In trying to justify this particular ideal the report says:
In Melbourne, the high density residential patterns of the 19th century inner city created an urban environment that was walkable and connected by public transport. However from the mid‑20th century in Australia, the trend has shifted to cities that are low density and/or decentralised, with separated land uses and arterial and cul‑de‑sac based street designs. 280
The footnote reference says:
280 P. Newman, ‘Re‑imagining the Australian suburb seminar’, presentation to Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne, 18 October 2005 …
The reason people moved out into suburbs was that they did not want to live next to factories. They did not want to live next to where they worked. The industrial capacity of Melbourne basically allowed them to move out further from the city, and the fact that public transport expanded and there was personal transport through cars allowed people to move away from their place of work where they spent the majority of their time. In many instances there were health effects related to being so close to a factory, such as respiratory problems et cetera.
There has been a change in that Victorians and people across the world want to live near where they work. This is a major part of changing the face of Melbourne. This report has completely ignored the fact that the market is driving a push towards greater density. Inevitably land prices will increase. Out in my neck of the woods you used to be able to pick up a decent‑sized block of land for about $99 000. Some people will scoff at that because they would have got one much cheaper than that less than 15 years ago. Nowadays you are looking at between $150 000 and $200 000 for a similar sized block. The market is expanding and the cost of having a backyard has got beyond some people, and that is why greater density developments are now being marketed.
The City of Wyndham has its town centre project and the City of Brimbank has its enlightened Sunshine Rising projects. One of the leaders in this area is the City of Hobsons Bay, which back in 2006 released a vision for the Pier Street precinct. That was scoffed at by most people because it involved higher density, high‑rise development, but at the moment there is a dirty great big crane in the middle of Pier Street helping to build two additional high‑density developments to accommodate the market that wants to move into that style of accommodation.
Between 2006 and 2011 the city of Melbourne had a population increase — that is, the numbers of people living in the city — of 26.5 per cent, which shows there is a gradual move towards this type of lifestyle. There are concerns about that style of living which I will raise at a later date.