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As part of the on-going Melbourne Beyond Five Million series, I published this article outlining the future of the city.
A great city is a planned city
Melbourne is a feast for the senses. From our glorious architecture reminiscent of years gone by, to our contemporary cafe lifestyle; from our scenic open spaces, to our eclectic mix of world culture – yes, we Melbournians are a lucky bunch.
It’s no surprise Melbourne is the world’s second most liveable city; and our liveability cannot be taken for granted. In 1990, Melbourne took out top honours in the World’s Most Liveable City ranking. Since then, we have fallen to number two. By comparison, Detroit was ranked six in 1990. Today, it’s ranked 40 and falling fast.
As we get bigger, we cannot let our liveability slip through our fingers. We are obligated to not only maintain our city’s liveability, but enhance it for years to come. Quite simply, it is up to us to build Melbourne’s future.
For over 25 years, Committee for Melbourne has helped shape Melbourne’s economic, social and environmental outlook. Founded in 1985 by a group of thought leaders who perceived a threat to Melbourne’s reputation, the Committee continues to play a key role in positioning Melbourne as one of the world’s most liveable cities.
Committee for Melbourne is a not-for-profit, apolitical, member network that unites Melbourne’s finest leaders and organisations to ensure that that city’s economic, social and environmental fabrics remain inclusive, progressive and sustainable.
Members represent over 150 of Melbourne’s major companies, academic institutions and civic organisations who debate key issues affecting Melbourne’s appeal. Through their expertise, leadership, insight and passion, members have supported some of our city’s best initiatives including:
Ø The concept behind Melbourne’s Docklands
Ø The introduction of the free City Circle tram
Ø The installation of bud lighting in Collins Street and St Kilda Road
Ø The development of the infrastructure bonds that funded CityLink
Ø The push for privatisation of Melbourne airport with direct flights into Melbourne
Today, the Committee is working to address issues that are set to impact Melbourne’s liveability over the next 50 years. Our city can get better as it gets bigger, but only if we have a long-term plan ready.
This plan must address a number of things. Firstly, it must consider ways to build upon existing infrastructure to improve Melbourne’s transport network.
Melbourne is approaching a system wide, city wide, mobility crisis caused by kevel crossings.
The Committee has identified rail level crossings as the hinge point issue preventing more trains operating on our city’s rail system. With more Melburnians using the rail network each year level crossings will stay closed and the roads will clog up. Melbourne’s 172 level crossings – Sydney has 8 – are the hinge point issue. At 100 million a pop, 17.2 billion needs to be found. Investing in rail and road separation will be vital to ease Melbourne’s road congestion long-term. Committee members are working together to explore ways to remove Melbourne’s most troubled level crossings in ways that are economically, socially, environmentally viable.
Secondly, the plan should also incorporate options for a good housing mix (i.e. low, medium and high density design). The Grattan Institute’s recent The Housing We Choose report, reveals that Melbourne is not building the types of houses people want or can afford. In fact, most people would consider the size and price of a property as trade-offs, if that property was in a good location. Put simply, with 51% of households being no child housholds by 2025, the great Australian dream is changing.
We need to rethink urban planning:
Therefore, we must integrate housing options in our communities to remain socially cohesive long-term. But for community to embrace different housing options, they first need to understand them. Committee members are working to identify the lessons learnt from Melbourne’s Docklands to apply to the redevelopment of urban renewal areas such as Fisherman’s Bend.
Thirdly, a plan for Melbourne should also actively protect our city’s international image, particularly when it concerns Melbourne’s second largest export – higher education.
To position Melbourne as a first-choice education destination within the international marketplace, we must improve the international student experience. The Committee’s successful Culture Card program provides international students with positive cultural experiences to enhance their understanding and deepen their connection with Melbourne and Victoria. Now in its second year, the Committee continues to help international students settle in our city.
But, our international reputation doesn’t end with international students. The Committee has also helped form a global secretariat on corporate social responsibility by supporting the new Melbourne-based UN Secretariat for Social Investment.
Finally, our long-term plan must nurture the future leaders of our great city. Operating since 1996, the Committee’s business leadership program, Future Focus Group, develops the skills of our emerging leaders by encouraging them to develop and implement projects that make a tangible, positive difference to Melbourne. The Committee continues to provide our city’s future leaders with the training needed to direct Melbourne’s future.
It’s true. A great city is a planned city, and Melbourne can get better as is gets bigger. But, we must plan now. If we fail to, we may become Detroit.
More discussion like this is in: