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Southbank Residents’ Group

20 Mar 2012

Will “grand Melbourne” still be liveable?

Planning Minister’s (Mathew Guy) announcement of his “Grand Melbourne” vision last month created some commotion among residents of the City of Melbourne.

Some expressed concern as to how this will all come together given that current infrastructure is already under pressure and requires a revamp due to rapid population growth. Others simply welcomed the initiative.

I believe that the Manhattan-style metropolis proposed for the City of Melbourne, if not managed properly, could end-up with some undesirable outcomes such as: high density, social isolation, large population, higher indices of pollution, security, social and health issues.  It is important to note that some of the most iconic cities in the world characterised by this Manhattan-like living did not do that well in the last liveability study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in 2011 – New York City 56th, London 53th and Hong Kong 31st place.  If this vision goes ahead, it will require a balancing act, as it seems that high density does not necessarily translate into liveability.  

It is important that Melbourne’s trademark and biggest asset – which is its track record of being the most liveable city in the world – is maintained. This is what makes Melbourne one of the most sought-after places to live in the world.

Southbank will play a role in the “Grand Melbourne” vision after been identified as a high growth area in the Southbank Structure Plan 2010. While Southbank’s residents welcome growth, it is expected by the community that the same will be supported with the right infrastructure and it would not be to the detriment of existing residents. It has been flagged in the outer growth areas that lack of basic infrastructure is having an impact on resident’s health.  This may pose a cost in Victoria’s health system and needs to be taken into consideration when planning for further growth.

Southbank’s growth should also be sustainable and at a reasonable pace. Residents should be able to enjoy basic amenities such as sunlight, streets without wind tunnels or traffic congestions, schools, open space, green areas, police services and health facilities among others. View corridors should also be implemented in order to protect river views in the same way that Vancouver has done with the North Shore Mountains.

The City of Melbourne should address any infrastructure shortage. Currently in Southbank, there are four buildings work in progress (approx 42 storeys each) and 19 more in the pipeline.

A quick calculation tells me that Southbank should reap the benefits soon and all the ratepayer’s money collected in the last couple of years should be translated in amenities and a traffic study for the area. This will identify if key arteries such as City Rd, Queensbridge and Clarendon streets are able to cope with the hundreds of additional cars coming to the roads with the new developments.

As we speak, a key Planning Scheme (Amendment C171) that will facilitate the implementation of the Southbank Structure Plan 2010 is being reviewed by an independent panel of experts. Their findings will be available in eight weeks or so. If you are not familiar with either of these documents and you call Southbank your home, I invite you to read them on the City of Melbourne’s website: http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/AboutMelbourne/ProjectsandInitiatives/Pages/AmendmentC171Southbank.aspx.

If you would like the Southbank Residents Group to organise an information session regarding C171 for your building or you would like join the Southbank Residents Group, please contact me on srgi2000@gmail.com.

Volunteers wanted

Southbank Residents Group is changing its image and is launching a new website. We are seeking for volunteers who would like to help us and who have some experience in marketing, public relations and social media strategy implementation. We are also looking for a PA/EA with excellent administration skills who would like to volunteer some time with us.

Students are welcome to apply!  If it sounds like you please contact me on srgi2000@gmail.com

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