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Article: Melbourne shaping up as 'another Hong Kong'

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Melbourne shaping up as 'another Hong Kong'

By Jesse Hogan

March 22, 2005

It is time for the State Government to abandon its controversial Melbourne 2030 planning strategy and start again, a population expert said today in a report backed by many urban pressure groups..

Bob Birrell, the director of Monash University's Centre for Population and Urban Research, made the claim at the launch of a book critiquing the strategy.

"It could do considerable damage before the government could be forced to give up," said Dr Birrell, a co-author of Melbourne 2030: Planning Rhetoric Versus Urban Reality.

"Because of the problems with Melbourne 2030, we think it is time to to go back to the planning drawing board."

Whereas the strategy advocates increase inner-city living and greater use of public transport, Dr Birrell believes most Melburnians prefer detached houses and driving their own cars to and from work.

Co-author Kevin O'Connor, from the school of architecture at Melbourne University, was of a similar view.

"It's pretty difficult to imagine many of the people living in the suburbs wanting to live in activity centres."

While hopeful that their book will be considered by government, Professor O'Connor believes the Melbourne 2030 strategy is unlikely be altered.

"It's probably unlikely, but I think they (the State Government) will have gradual change forced upon them."

Many urban pressure groups, who are also uphappy with Melbourne 2030, also attended today's launch.

Booroondara Residents Action Group convenor Mary Drost believes the government would be better served by forcing new residents into regional areas and satellite cities "so Melbourne will not turn into another Hong Kong".

"If they are really going to get another one million people it will reduce the liveability of Melbourne," she said.

Julianne Bell, secretary of Protectors of Public Lands, also criticised the strategy's preference for inner-city development to avoid urban sprawl.

"Melbourne 2030 is fatally flawed and if allowed to proceed will irrevocably change the shape of our city and our suburbs for the worse," she said.
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