The state government announced yesterday that it is going to fast track the release of massive amounts of greenfields land along Melbourne’s growth corridors, in response to new information which suggests that the city population will reach 6.2 million in just 12 years.
Whilst there’s no doubt that the supply of land needs to be increased, the outskirts of the city isn’t the place to do it. It is terribly inefficient on account of the large distances from major trip generators, as well as the cost of new infrastructure which needs to be provided. Furthermore, very few people in the inner and middle suburbs or middle class newcomers are going to be prepared to live there. This still leaves significant price pressure on inner and middle ring dwellings.
Melbourne 2030 dead
This was the final nail in the coffin of Melbourne 2030, but it does represent an ongoing trend. When we look at the data on pages 53 and 54 of the excellent 2008 Transport Demand Information Atlas for Victoria, it’s obvious that Melbourne 2030 hasn’t made a real dent in outer suburban growth. In fact, it has increased slightly.
While the CBD and inner suburbs are getting quite a bit of apartment and infill development, It’s simply not enough to stem big population increases in the growth corridors. Given the extent to which the population is increasing (around 1500 per week) – something big needs to be done. I’d suggest large scale brownfields development in the inner west is a big part of the solution.
This is already happening in Southbank and the Docklands, but it’s time to move further west to Fishermans Bend. Put in proper high density development and run a four track cut and cover rail line down the middle, between Southern Cross and Newport. Two tracks would be for a metro style line that would provide Werribee services a quicker route to the city and the other two would cater for freight and Geelong line trains. Here’s a very rough idea of the sort of development I’m looking at – it’s big!
The whole project would be difficult to cost because any potential contribution from developers would be hard to guess at this stage. Add to that the problems with decking over the Westgate freeway and building a rail tunnel in the Yarra silt and costs could get quite high. That’s not to say they would be higher than the long term costs of providing infrastructure on greenfields sites, and we should emerge with a more amenable result. That’s not a problem though – a project like this won’t be happening any time soon!