What are the issues of relevance to me?
The Victorian Government has released a discussion paper on the refresh of Plan Melbourne.
Plan Melbourne 2016 will be published in the first half of next year, and will build on Plan Melbourne 2014. On 18 June 2014, we reported on the adoption of Plan Melbourne which was subsequently incorporated into the Victoria Planning Provisions. The Ministerial Advisory Committee that advised on Plan Melbourne has been reappointed to advise on the refresh.
The discussion paper reflects the Government's commitments and priorities and canvasses options for changes in planning policy and strategy. It covers a range of key issues including housing and investment. Of particular relevance to our clients is the discussion of improved environmental sustainability and planning for transport.
Environmental sustainability and climate change
The discussion paper emphasises sustainability as a key concept in the Plan Melbourne refresh. Driving this part of the commentary are the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology projections of increases in temperature and changing patterns of rainfall and more extreme weather events such as drought and bushfires, heatwaves, flooding and increased coastal inundation.
The discussion paper suggests that a 'more sustainable polycentric city model' is preferable to contain urban growth within a permanent urban growth boundary. It is also suggested that Plan Melbourne 2016 might support the 'greening' of the city, by structuring planning, local policies and overlays to promote more vegetation cover and cool hard surfaces. Clarification of the limits to the 20-minute neighbourhood is also expected in Plan Melbourne 2016.
Once finalised, Plan Melbourne 2016 will sit alongside other key components of current and existing legislation, policy and plans in Victoria on the topic of climate change and environmental sustainability, many of which are under review:
· Climate Change Act 2010, under review by an Independent Panel;
· Climate Change Adaptation Plan, for which consultation is planned in early 2016;
· Victorian Energy Efficiency Target Act 2007, recently amended;
· Renewable Energy Action Plan, currently being developed;
· Energy Efficiency and Productivity Strategy, to be released later this year;
· revised Draft Victorian Floodplain Management Strategy, released in June 2015 and expected to be finalised by the end of 2015;
· State Water Plan, to be released in 2016.
Plan Melbourne 2016 will reflect the Government's transport priorities and commitments, including:
· the Melbourne Metro Rail Project;
· the removal of 50 metropolitan level crossings;
· the Mernda Rail Extension; and
· commitments to expand the bus network.
The discussion paper recognises that potential road initiatives such as connecting the Eastern Freeway and the Metropolitan Ring Road require further assessment.
Although Plan Melbourne 2014 committed to a second container port at Hastings, Plan Melbourne 2016 will leave open different options for the most appropriate site for a second container port, including locations at Bay West and Hastings. Infrastructure Victoria will independently advise the government on this.
What are the next steps?
We will continue to update clients on this process. Comments and submissions on the refresh of Plan Melbourne are invited until Friday 18 December 2015. Please contact us if you would like assistance with preparing your submission.
Managing Principal Solicitor
 Bureau of Meteorology (2014) 'State of the Climate 2014'.