Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Planners attack sprawl, question transport plan

Clay Lucas

PLANNERS have asked why the State Government has released a major strategy to let Melbourne's sprawl extend without first releasing a detailed transport plan.

The Government announced yesterday that it would rezone 50,000 hectares of farmland on Melbourne's city fringe into building lots.

"Where is the transport plan?" Planning Institute president Jason Black asked.

The community needed to know how growth areas would be accessible by public transport and road, Mr Black said.

A proposed metropolitan rail line between Werribee and Sunshine must form part of the Government's transport strategy if Melbourne's west was to have adequate public transport, he said.

The $1.5 billion rail line was proposed by Sir Rod Eddington in April.

Government sources have confirmed that the rail line, known as the Tarneit link, will be included in the Government's transport plan, due out within days.

Mr Black said the city's expansion had been driven more by population growth projections than by a strategic plan for Melbourne.

And housing would not be made more affordable by the release of more land, Mr Black said.

Last month Curtin University's Peter Newman published a study with global engineering company Parsons Brinckerhoff that showed development of housing on the urban fringe cost $85,000 more per block than on existing inner-city sites.

"Governments just don't know how to stop sprawl, because they don't know how to facilitate high-density building," Professor Newman said.

The expansion will further increase Melbourne's carbon emissions. The city produces 11 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, compared with 8.5 million tonnes in London, despite having almost half the population.

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