Academic journal article European Journal of Sustainable Development

Sustainable Urban Development and Liveability. How Can Melbourne Retain Its Title as the World's Most Liveable City and Strive for Sustainability at the Same Time?

Academic journal article European Journal of Sustainable Development

Sustainable Urban Development and Liveability. How Can Melbourne Retain Its Title as the World's Most Liveable City and Strive for Sustainability at the Same Time?

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Many cities across the world are experiencing extraordinary growth and Melbourne is the fastest growing city in Australia. This growth need not necessarily be a problem unless there is insufficient attendant growth of infrastructure to support it. While experiencing this growth, Melbourne has been again announced as the World's Most Liveable City now for the third year in a row. However, the rapid growth in Melbourne, and the projected population in the next 30 years place severe pressure on the developmental future of Melbourne. Of the top ten most liveable cities, only two are over 2 million and one over 6 million (Department of Transport, Planning and Infrastructure, 2013). This reinforces the severity of the situation and highlights the need to analyse the probable effects the increase in population can have on Melbourne and develop a strategy that will provide for sustainability into the future.With the various 'push and pulls' influencing Melbourne, planning for the future will be a complex task. Meeting the demand for transport will be one of the most complex aspects of planning for Melbourne and its peri-urban environment. Melbourne's most recent infrastructure development is a major road tunnel connecting two freeways across the north of the City.This project is yet another road development and it is time to re-evaluate the viability of road projects as a whole and the role that they play in a city's future. Sustainability is the emphasis of this investigation. Current growth trends need to be examined and howthese impact theshape of the urban pattern of Melbourne. Melbourne is shaped by its transport infrastructure and it is timelyto review how the transport system can be used to derive a sustainable urban network for Melbourne, its peri-urban environment and also to reach out to rural satellites within a short travel time from the greater city of Melbourne.

2. The Development of Melbourne

Melbourne was founded in the mid-nineteenth century. The CBD was planned with a meticulous grid of main streets and the inner suburbs spread from there. A tram based transport system assisted the growth of the middle ring suburbs around the turn of the 20th century. From then in conjunction with the tram network a radial heavy rail network spreadto the outer suburbs.

Since WW2 rapid development occurred between those heavy rail lines radiating out from the CBD. This in-fill development was solely road based with the car dominating the transport task.

Melbourne's Planning Strategy (Department of Transport, Planning and Infrastructure, 2013) identifies Melbourne as a sprawling city of 4.25 million people dispersed end to end, across a distance of approximately 100 km. The population increase has been estimated as 2000 each week (Colebatch, 2013) .The spread of urbanisation results in the transport task of moving people and goods representing the second largest of the City's Greenhouse gas emissions behind stationary energy generation. If the City's transport system is to approach sustainability it cannot continue in this vein.

Melbourne has retained a dominant CBD as a mono-centric city focusand has become one of the most sprawling cities in the world. The low population density of Melbourne in comparison with other world cities is demonstrated in the report, Melbourne - a changing and growing city (Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure 2013).

Figure 1 shows how the population density around the inner city area is predominantly medium density and becomes considerably less dense further away from the city centre.

This sprawling development has been driven by the car and subsequent investment in road based infrastructure at the detriment of the enhancement of public transport. The use of the transport infrastructure in Australian capital cities and the reliance on the car- is alarmingly illustrated in Figure 2.

However, even the extensive road based investment has not kept pace with demand. …

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