Friday, September 5, 2008

City of 8 million 'unliveable' -

by Cameron Houston and Royce Millar
Will Melbourne still be marvellous when it's twice as big?

Will Melbourne still be marvellous when it's twice as big? Photo: Craig Abraham

MELBOURNE'S population could explode to almost 8 million by 2056, placing massive strain on the city's public transport, water supplies and rapidly expanding urban boundary.

While the nation's population is set to hit 35.5 million by 2056, Melbourne is expected to grow to between 6.1 million and 7.9 million, according to new projections by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Melbourne's population could exceed Sydney's by 2039, according to the bureau's highest projection. The bureau made three projections based on different rates of migration, life expectancy and fertility.

Planning experts warn that Melbourne's much-vaunted liveability could be destroyed if the unexpected growth projections prove correct, and have urged the State Government to radically overhaul its infrastructure policy and investment.

"These projections are unprecedented. None of the state governments around the country have assumed figures anything like this," said Bob Birrell, director of the Centre for Population and Urban Research at Monash University.

He said 1 million more houses would be needed over the next 30 years, as the State Government battles to contain urban sprawl and the housing affordability crisis.

"The Government is going to have to rethink its planning across the entire spectrum. It's a massive task that just got bigger," Dr Birrell said...

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