Can't believe this wasn't posted while I was off sipping cocktails and lying on the beach. Somebody dropped the ball!
Suburban sprawl costs billions more
Jason Dowling and Clay Lucas
July 17, 2009
PLANS to build thousands of homes on Melbourne's fringes will cost Victorians around $40 billion more than if they were built in existing suburbs, a new State Government report shows.
In an embarrassment for the Government on the day that submissions close on its plans to further expand Melbourne's urban growth boundary, the report released on Wednesday shows the total cost of building homes in new outer suburbs is more than double that of building in existing areas.
The added costs include extra infrastructure such as power, water and transport, as well as higher health costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
The report, commissioned by the state Department of Planning, cites research that found "for every 1000 dwellings, the cost for infill development (in existing suburbs) is $309 million and the cost of fringe developments is $653 million".
Last December, Premier John Brumby announced plans to expand Melbourne's urban growth boundary to accommodate 134,000 new homes in the next 20 years.
Based on the planning department's report, those 134,000 new homes in fringe areas will cost Victorians more than $40 billion over coming decades in extra infrastructure costs than if built in areas with existing infrastructure.
The higher economic costs of outer suburban development were noted in a report about increasing development along Melbourne's tram lines. The Residential Intensification in Tramway Corridors report was commissioned by the Department of Transport and produced by SGS Economics and Planning, with Design Urban and the City of Melbourne.
The city council's design and urban environment director, Rob Adams, has been one of the most influential figures in planning inner Melbourne over the past two decades. In 2008, he was named the Prime Minister's Environmentalist of the Year.
Last year, Professor Adams began work with the state transport and planning departments on the tram corridors study.
At a Planning Institute of Victoria forum on Wednesday night, Professor Adams said the "hidden costs" of building in outer Melbourne were massive.
"The hidden costs of development, of 1000 houses built on the periphery of the city or the fringe of the city, are $300 million more than 1000 houses in the city," he told 150 planning consultants and bureaucrats.
Professor Adams said that separate research by Griffith University showed that allowing Melbourne to expand further would hurt future generations.
"We are building in poverty," Professor Adams said. "If we carry on building the way we are building, we will spend $110 billion more than we need to on building in the wrong places."
RMIT University associate professor Michael Buxton, who advised the Victorian Government on its planning strategy Melbourne 2030, which was originally aimed at containing urban sprawl, said the Government had to redirect development from Melbourne's fringe into established suburbs.
"That takes planning, it takes governments to intervene and change the planning rules, and this Government doesn't believe in this level of intervention," Professor Buxton said.
"(The Government) doesn't want to take on the outer-urban property industry.
"To get this kind of change, the Government would have to completely change its ideology, and it's not prepared to do this. So the result is business-as-usual bad practice and huge cost to the community."
But Property Council chief executive Jennifer Cunich said: "Anecdotal evidence to us tells that infill development is quite difficult to achieve."
Ms Cunich said while Melbourne's urban growth boundary should be expanded to accommodate the city's booming population, development in existing suburbs should also be made easier.
Planning Minister Justin Madden has previously said the Government expected to collect $2 billion in growth areas taxes over the next 20 years to pay for infrastructure at the time new suburbs were developed.
Last night Mr Madden's spokeswoman, Sofia Dedes, said the Government was working to provide new homes across the city: "To ensure we meet the needs of Melburnians well into the future, we need to provide a variety of affordable housing and lifestyle options that cater for people both in established areas and on the fringes."