Plan Melbourne’s governance under fire

By Julian Bajkowski

A controversial move by Victoria’s Napthine government to have an appointed board run a new statutory state agency tasked with helping to coordinate urban renewal so that another two million will eventually live in Melbourne has drawn a sharp and immediate response from the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA).

The group that represents both councils and community organisations says that key governance arrangements, including representation from within the community, are missing from the structure of the newly created Metropolitan Planning Authority (MPA) that has been tasked with overseeing the ambitious Plan Melbourne.

The massive urban infill project is seeking to coordinate the renewal of large tracts of once industrial land, including Fishermans Bend, as part of the Victorian government’s bid to check costly suburban sprawl by increasing population density.

“While we welcome the MPA and the clear plan of action provided by Plan Melbourne, the opportunity for a new, democratic model with new governance arrangements has been overlooked,” said VLGA President, Councillor Samantha Dunn.

Ms Dunn said although VLGA acknowledged that people in the MPA had experience working in growth areas and had worked local governments “on many projects” representation from councils and the community was still needed.

“Such a body would enable the participation of all metropolitan local governments and their communities in achieving the shared goal of delivering on community aspirations for the future of our city,” Ms Dunn said.

“Population growth and the appropriate infrastructure development to support it are key concerns for all Victorians.”

Ms Dunn said that communities feared that the state government ‘bigger picture’ was “swallowing up” the 'little picture' because it was not considering the ramifications of large-scale developments on local communities.

“That is why we have previously called for elected local councillors to be represented through the governance of this new authority and we are concerned that this ‘new’ Authority is a change in name only.

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