Minister: The Hon Richard Wynne MP

Portfolio: Minister for Planning

Countries visited: Canada, United States of America

Date of travel: 4 July – 15 July 2016

No. of official travel days: 11

No. of accompanying Ministerial staff: 1

Number of official travel days (include day of departure and day of return): 11 days

Funding for the overseas trip was paid by (list department/s or agency): Office of the Minister for Planning

Air fares: $28,771.52

Accommodation: $7,029.93

Other expenses (including surface travel and travel allowances): $9,498.41

Travel cost for Minister and staff: $45,299.86

Purpose of travel

A strategic approach to managing our built environment is critical to accommodating population growth and change in a way that maintains our world class liveability and protects our heritage. Victoria's population is growing fast and projected to increase from six million in 2016 to almost eight million in 2031, and exceeding 10 million by 2051. Eight million people are projected to live in Greater Melbourne and 2.1 million in Victoria's regions. The quality of our built environment will continue to influence Victoria's ability to attract jobs, investment and skills.

From 4-15 July 2016 I travelled to Canada and the United States, with the purpose being:

  • to develop a rich understanding of the suite of policy responses available to Victoria to strengthen its strategic management of population growth
  • to investigate best practice delivery and governance structures for urban renewal areas,  affordable housing delivery, transport-orientated development, climate change adaptation and resilience, built-form controls and public realm infrastructure delivery
  • to consult with senior government, academic and industry leaders to share information and improve linkages between Melbourne and cities facing similar challenges
  • to gain an understanding of innovative community engagement approaches in land use planning processes.

Vancouver, Toronto, New York and Chicago were selected because of their population size, rate of growth, economic and employment profile and contrasting jurisdictional policy responses in a number of fields of interest. Like Melbourne, each of these cities is experiencing strong population growth (in the case of Toronto, growing at approximately 100,000 people per year – the same as Victoria). These cities are managing population growth through a combination of:

  • strategic urban renewal projects on land adjacent to downtown/CBD locations
  • utilisation of former industrial or waterfront areas to facilitate economic development and affordable housing opportunities
  • innovative models of infill and greenfield development.

Benefits of travel to the State of Victoria

Significant insights have been gained from this trip, with implications for a number of Victorian Government initiatives in planning, development and affordable housing. The finalisation of the Plan Melbourne metropolitan strategy, the new Smart Planning program, review of controls for Melbourne's Central City area, reforms to residential zones and a framework for better apartments are particularly pertinent.

The organisations visited emphasised the importance of government actively promoting sustainable growth and economic development opportunities while carefully balancing economic success with liveability issues. Valuable context was provided for amended Central City planning controls for Melbourne, with North American jurisdictions enforcing a range of controls to ensure amenity is maintained in downtown areas, requiring significant developments give back to the public realm and contribute to positive city outcomes.

Discussions with policy makers and experts, together with guided visits to urban renewal precincts and revitalised waterfront areas, emphasised the importance of delivering activated public spaces which can attract locals and visitors alike. Improving the public realm and delivering new open spaces will form a critical component of the intensification of inner Melbourne through development of emerging precincts such as Fishermans Bend and Arden Macaulay. Visits also highlighted the important role strategic renewal can play in supporting new employment precincts that deliver jobs and ensure a healthy social and economic mix in new communities.

All cities visited had a range of policy mechanisms in place to secure more affordable housing for their communities. These measures provide a timely lesson as we create a stronger, fairer Victoria by identifying ways to facilitate a greater supply of social and affordable housing and continue to ensure sufficient development opportunities in well-located areas.

Practical lessons about the governance and oversight of long-term planning projects point to the importance of a strong, inclusive and consistent approach over time to benefit present and future populations. The degree to which Victoria can sustainably and effectively manage growth and change will rely on Government providing a clear and transparent pathway. The implementation of Plan Melbourne affords us an opportunity to work closely with Local Governments and continue to lead an engaged community conversation around the future of our city.

Further benefits to Victoria also included the establishment of closer ties with the city governments and planning departments of Vancouver, Toronto, New York and Chicago, as well as with the provincial Government of Ontario.

Page last updated: 07/07/23