Back when our present Victorian state government was first elected, I had high hopes for planning in our wonderful city. That rogue Kennett and and all his developer mates had behaved appallingly with planning. It was very clear that they were on the side of developers and paid scant attention to what local people wanted in their area.
Our new government had a plan called 2030. I have never read it, but the essence of it seems to be to consolidate population growth in areas that are well serviced by public and private facilities and not to just keep sprawling the growth out into the country side.
Two matters have stimulated this post. One was a post by Urban Creature, and the other when driving through Camberwell Junction last Sunday. Urban Creature says that the State Tory opposition are releasing a new plan. I won't expect much from them. Camberwell Junction was an area specified under 2030 as a growth area. There was a plan to build over Camberwell Station and build a considerable number of apartments there, along with of course more retail. Now I don't like Camberwell Junction and generally I don't like the sort of people who live around there, but it is an area that is very well serviced with shops, department stores, government departments and a movie theatre, and it has some of the worst shopping centre traffic congestion in Melbourne, in spite of having quite good public transport. It was congested at 9.30 on Sunday morning for goodness sake. Is this really a place to increase the population?
Residents elect councils and the councils write planning rules for their municipalities. The residents have some power through their council and many councils have been booted out by residents who were against their pro developers stance.
A developer lodges a plan that breaches the rules and when the council rejects the plan the developer then takes the matter to VCAT where it may or may not get approval. It can breach the rules and still get approval. This is just plainly wrong although I expect sometimes the councils are pleased. They have acted for the residents as they are obliged, but really think the development is a good thing for their area.
Developers are constantly pushing the boundaries and always argue that a development needs to be of a certain size to be profitable. Well, I ask them, who has driven these prices?
As for containing the suburban sprawl, in the last few months I have driven towards Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Pakenham, Ferntree Gully and Frankston and I don't see any suburban sprawl being contained. It just grows and grows. No wonder big business, including developers, is always arguing for a higher immigration level.
People have had enough and Save Our Suburbs has become active again along with other groups.
Is it wrong that the people who live in a suburb decide what is built there through their elected council? There could be an argument for a very few exceptions, but no breaching of the basic council set rules. The existing must be respected.