The City of Melbourne’s planning chairman, Nick Reece, complains that Melbourne’s appearance has been harmed by poor architecture and building design in recent times as the city’s population and construction has ballooned:
They are some of Melbourne’s biggest design eyesores: buildings that shot up over the past decade, during the central city’s biggest ever construction boom.
That boom coincided with successive planning ministers loosening regulations, allowing developers to build many urban spaces the city council says simply don’t work.
“We have let too much crap be built,” Melbourne City Council’s planning chair Nick Reece says.
Now, the council wants current Planning Minister Richard Wynne to help it raise the bar: by giving city planners new rules to discourage developers turning streets into unpleasant places to be.
It wants Mr Wynne to hand them more power to negotiate with architects and developers over how their buildings impact on city streets…
“We want to see more buildings that give back to the public realm,” says Cr Reece, who argues that while Melbourne is by far Australia’s most attractive and interesting city, it has been degraded by recent bad architecture and design…
“We are seeing low-quality design outcomes”…
Recently retired planning academic Michael Buxton is a vocal critic of Melbourne’s recently built skyscrapers and has lambasted successive planning ministers for not standing up to developers.
He said the city council’s new design rules were “minor window dressing” that would help if approved.
“But the really big issues – height and bulk and apartment size – the state government just isn’t interested in,” Professor Buxton says.
Talk about hypocrisy. Nick Reece is an avid supporter of mass immigration and a ‘Big Australia’, arguing the following last year on his Politics HQ program:
“Countries that don’t have strong immigration programs often get themselves into trouble. And probably the best example of this is Japan, where because of such strong public opinion against immigration, and there’s been a drop in their birth rate, they now have this sort of demographic timebomb which is ticking, which has seen them lose 20-years of good economic growth. So, a properly managed big immigration program surely is a good thing for our economy”.
Reece has also lobbied strongly against policies to lower immigration, such as tighter English language proficiency, the introduction of a four-year waiting period for citizenship, and restrictions of 457 visas, arguing they “risk hobbling the economy”.
Blind Freddy can see that the key driver behind the proliferation of ugly high-rises across Melbourne is force-fed immigration, which has driven an insane 1.2 million (33%) increase in the city’s population over the past 13 years:
And is projected to expand Melbourne’s population to more than 8 million people mid-century:
Obviously, if you want to add 100,000 people to Melbourne every year, then you will need a lot of buildings and fast. All these millions of extra people inundating Melbourne will need somewhere to live. And this will necessarily involve a combination of further urban sprawl, increased density through high-rises, and overall smaller and more expensive housing.
This is why Infrastructure Australia projects that Melbourne’s liveability will deteriorate further through worsening traffic congestion and less access to jobs, schools, hospitals and green space, under every build-out scenario:
Nick Reece needs to face the fact that it is the mass immigration ‘Big Australia’ policy that he supports that is primarily responsible for the over-development across Melbourne and the loss of amenity.
And unless immigration is drastically curbed, Reece’s proposed new development rules is merely fiddling at the edges while Melbourne’s liveability burns.
You can’t love mass immigration and then complain about excessive development, Nick Reece.