Acting on a grand vision

Last month the Victorian Planning Authority and the City of Melbourne released the final vision for one of the country’s most exciting urban renewal opportunities at Arden, a major precinct in North Melbourne.

Located less than 2km from the Melbourne CBD, the 50 hectare urban renewal site is expected to house over 15,000 residents by 2051 and create 34,000 jobs.

The Vision outlines a number of actions to guide the site’s transformation into an innovation hub. A major cornerstone of the precinct, and a catalyst for development will be an underground Metro Tunnel station which is expected to open in 2025. The precinct will provide the opportunity to connect growth areas in Melbourne’s west to a growing knowledge hub in the Docklands and Parkville, and existing neighbourhoods in North Melbourne.

The GBCA has welcomed the Government’s vision, which has been developed with deliberate engagement and thoughtful consideration to the rapidly changing built environment and what people want and need from their communities.

Packed full of actions to address key development challenges, its release is a major step forward in Melbourne’s growth journey. However as we learnt from Fishermans Bend, great visions need to be underpinned by mechanisms that move decisively on their implementation.

The Government has committed to making Arden an exemplar of sustainable urban renewal. To achieve this, the Vision recommends the use of ‘best practice standards’ for environmental, economic and social sustainability in terms of both community and building design. The Vision seeks to support both community wellbeing and the natural environment through outcomes such as:

·         Energy efficiency, low carbon buildings and infrastructure

·         An urban structure that supports active transport

·         Integrated water and flood management

·         High quality open spaces and green links for people and biodiversity

·         Precinct wide shared energy, water and waste management systems

·         Best practice waste minimisation and conversion of waste to energy

·         Environmentally responsive urban design

The Vision’s reference to a nationally recognised accreditation scheme to guide the delivery of the precinct’s sustainability goals, is arguably one of the most important initiatives in the strategy. Large urban renewal projects like Arden are vital to retaining Melbourne’s precious liveability and productivity, and implementation will depend on having a framework that translates strategic directions into measurable outcomes

Integrating these sustainable approaches in the renewal of Arden will require all stakeholders to work together and use a common language and definition of ‘best practice’. We welcomed the Vision’s reference to Green Star as an example of a nationally recognised accreditation scheme that is need to guide the delivery of these goals, but this is only the first step. Going forward, we look forward to working with the VPA and the City of Melbourne to help put Arden on the front foot for achieving its sustainability vision.