Making Yarra More Liveable
Council will work to improve the services that affect the liveability of Yarra. Town planning, roads and transport, as well as waste management all impact on our local amenity. Continued construction and development, as well as sustained population growth, place significant pressure on Yarra’s liveability.
Liveability is also about Yarra being a place where people are able to easily access and enjoy community amenities. To make the municipality liveable is to embrace the needs of people experiencing barriers into the mainstream economic environment. Social inclusion and connectedness make Yarra a liveable community.
Over the last six years Yarra has averaged population growth above the Victorian average, adding over 1,000 people per annum for the last three years. Yarra is forecast to grow at around 1% each year over the next 15 years, reaching a population of 89,000 by 2026. This growth is witnessed in the high number of planning applications relative to Yarra’s population and dwelling numbers.
Approximately 1,400 planning permit applications are now being made each year, with between 10% and 15% for large scale developments. In 2008, 1,380 building permits were approved for work totalling $439 million, Yarra’s highest ever amount.
Melbourne’s recent population growth has been largely driven by Commonwealth Government policy, particularly the increase in the intake of skilled migrants and partly the impact of the ‘baby-bonus’. The two options for accommodating this growth in Melbourne are to continue the urban sprawl or to concentrate higher density housing in inner and middle-urban areas, with measured growth in nominated growth areas.
Urban sprawl is costly (environmentally, socially and economically) as all infrastructure and services are slow to develop, there is relatively little local employment and residents are highly dependent on cars for travel. Urban consolidation can be a better option, allowing for existing infrastructure and services to be enhanced to meet a larger population.
While Yarra will need to accommodate its share of housing growth, the Municipal Strategic Statement (Yarra’s strategic plan for land use development) directs medium and higher density residential development to strategic redevelopment sites. Yarra’s community seeks to protect the suburban, low-level and active streetscapes that promote community life.
Yarra also has a significant turnover of residents, with around half the population having moved to the City within the last 5 years. A major challenge for us is how we manage (plan for) this growth and change, and how we mediate the competition between different interests and needs.
A difficulty identified in the Municipal Strategic Statement (Yarra’s strategic plan for land-use) is the balance between the regional (retail and entertainment focus) and local roles of Yarra’s Activity Centres. Other challenges for Yarra include how new development integrates with existing communities, the limited land for large developments and high property costs, and the balance between regulatory roles that support growth whilst protecting local amenity.
Yarra is close to Melbourne’s Central Business District (CBD) and two major freeways / tollways (M1 and M3) run through the City alongside numerous arterial roads. Essentially, Yarra is located between the eastern dormitory suburbs (relatively few professional jobs) and the CBD which has a high proportion of Victoria’s professional jobs.
Melbourne has faced increasing levels of travel from high employment levels as well as population and economic growth. Future travel demand in Melbourne will negatively impact on Yarra unless there is support for adequate alternatives such as improved bicycle paths, more friendly walking paths and footpaths and improved capacity and services on Melbourne’s public transport network.
Cycling and walking have minimal environmental and amenity impacts and significant health benefits. Public transport (trains, trams and buses) for longer distance travel is also far less environmentally demanding and should meet the needs of those unable to walk or ride.
The City of Yarra’s local infrastructure includes 260 kms of roads, 85 kms of laneways, 170 kms of storm water drains and 491 kms of footpaths. Yarra has the highest level of non-car use for travel to work in Melbourne. More than two in every five residents walk, cycle or catch public transport to go to work (42%), well above the Melbourne average (16%). Most public transport through Yarra is now overcrowded during peak hours, with limited room for additional passengers.
Key concerns for Council are the loss of community amenity from inappropriate levels of traffic on main roads and particularly ensuring the State Government is adequately investing in increasing the capacity of the public transport system to reduce vehicle traffic. State Government suggestions to extend clearways and possibly build flyovers or underpasses along Hoddle Street would increase through traffic and reduce local amenity.
It is also crucial to ensure that residents are able to move around Yarra to access jobs, schools, services and shops, especially without the need to use cars.
Increased activity, and more residents / housing, has led to greater demand for car parking. Within a small municipality, and with a strong commitment for more ‘friendly’ cycling and walking paths, reassessing our parking management will be an ongoing focus.
The Municipal Strategic Statement vision includes commitments for most travel to be by walking, cycling or public transport. Objectives in the MSS relevant to managing change include accommodating forecast population increases, as well as reducing conflicts between different uses, the reliance on cars and the impact of traffic.
Across these areas – property development, travel growth and greater business activity – Council faces increased pressure to balance support for local development while at the same time protecting neighbourhood amenity.
Engaging the broader community in understanding these different needs, alongside clear local laws and sensible enforcement, will help to minimise conflict and disruption for the community.
Effective waste management also contributes to the local amenity and is a major community service provided by Council, with over 12,000 tonnes of domestic rubbish and over 9,000 tonnes of recycling collected annually. Council also provides street sweeping and manages 600 park and street waste bins.
Minimising waste and increasing recycling and reuse are important environmental priorities for Council. In particular, Council is working to reduce the amount of food waste currently going into land fill.
Council will employ the following Strategies, will measure progress through these Strategic Indicators and proposes some Initiatives to achieve the Strategic Objective of Making Yarra More Liveable.
Council’s work to achieve this Strategic Objective will include the following strategies:
- Ensure appropriate land use planning
- Advocate for public transport improvements
- Increase bicycle use through improved access and infrastructure for bicycles and pedestrians
- Promote improved community amenity and liveability in the context of the late night economy and other contested factors.
- Ensure access to, and improve, public space in activity and neighbourhood centres
Council’s progress towards this Strategic Objective will in part be measured and reported through these Indicators:
- Sustained decrease in the number of ‘amenity’ complaints to Council (both new and repeat complaints)
- Significantly rejuvenate at least 4 key public places (urban space) across Yarra
- Reduction in ‘failure to determine’ planning appeals to 10% or below by 2011
- Achievement of at least 5 separated on-road bike routes and 5 major off-road bike route upgrades by 2013
- Complete at least 3 Structure Plans
Activities and projects Council proposes to work on over the next four years, subject to approval through the annual Budget process, include:
1. Streaming planning applications
2. Implement structure plans, urban design frameworks and the Open Space Strategy
3. Clear communication of local laws dealing with amenity issues
4. Advocate to State and Commonwealth Governments on public transport
5. Produce and implement a Parking Management Strategy
6. Implement further traffic calming measures through Local Area Traffic Management Studies (LATMS)
7. Review and implement the Waste Management Strategy
8. Develop and implement a Bicycle Strategy
9. Review the amount of road pavement in Yarra that can be made available for other uses, with a view to increase open space, porous surfaces and bike paths
10. Complete Heritage Review and seek to incorporate these controls in the Planning Scheme.
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