TAKEN FROM THE FIRST DRAFT DRIVER’S STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS 18 Feb 2008
Looking back from say 2030, what were some of the most significant developments in the central city?
One of the most profound changes is that Melbourne becomes truly a city where people lived. By 2020 there are over 140,000 residents in the central city.
In the doughnut city of the 1960’s and 70’s Then the central city had stagnated and declined in favour of the spreading suburbs. But after 2010 this trend had clearly reversed. Many outer suburban areas were now stagnating with property values flat or declining and defaults on mortgages in those locations were increasing rapidly.
Big rises in the cost of all forms of energy had made the outer suburbs less and less affordable. Services delivered by the private sector deserted these localities and the cost of delivering public services over such a dispersed population skyrocketed.
Fortunately at the start of the century Government had put in place forward looking ( but initially un-popular) urban consolidation policies and by 2010 they realised that for less than the cost of providing services to these parts of the city they could assist families to move into the flourishing urban centres of Melbourne, Footscray, Dandenong, Box Hill, Broadmeadows, etc
Between 2010 and 2015 State and local government, led by the City of Melbourne introduced changes in land tax, governance processes, planing regulation, tenancy laws. These changes combined with more efficient construction technology that utilised robotics made it possible to produce inner city housing which was much more affordable. By 2020 practically all new affordable housing was now being built in central urban locations. Most residents there rented which was now just as secure as owning, far more affordable and better for the overall economy and innder urban homelessness was eliminated by 2018
Government had also acknowledged that fringe suburban lifestyle with its high reliance on energy was no longer sustainable and that typical households living in the urban centres such as the City of Melbourne consumed far less energy and, water and produced less waste. By 2018 the typical Melbourne resident had a ecological footprint of 1.8 global Ha/person/annum compared to the Victorian average in 2006 of 7.7 Migration to the urban centres was best way to make dramatic reductions in the environmental footprint of the Victorians and Government actively encouraged this and people preferred it. The urban centres offered much better amenity, a wider range of services, career and educational opportunity, and a rich social life. The under 35’s in particular were drawn to this.
As more people chose to live in central Melbourne the character of the city changed. Radically. Residents brought a stronger sense of local neighbourhood to the city. They became actively engaged in caring for their neighbourhoods and improving them. They ensured that support services were provided to meet their needs.
The big surprise for most people was how much more enjoyable and sociable the city streets had now become even though they were every bit as active as they used to be the constant noise of vehicles and other mechanical systems was all but gone. It was now possible to hear the sounds of voices, birds, the wind. buskers sung unplugged. The city streets were now even morel exciting but without the cacophony of engines.
City residents now slept well at night because noise from the late night entertainment culture was now strictly controlled. This issue came to a head in 2015 because almost half of the city’s housing stock had now been retrofitted to make them energy and water efficient which included automated night purging system for cooling in summer which meant that most city residents slept with their windows open – they insited that the streets after 1.00pm should be much quieter.
Car use and car ownership fell dramatically between and by 2015.the typical resident didn’t own a car or parking space. Many were members of car sharing organisations who by 2018 had extensive fleets of electric and hybrids. With the advent of one swipe card to access and pay for car sharing, bicycle hire and public transport using all of these modes was very convenient and much cheaper than owning and parking a car.
The introduction of the comprehensive bike hire service in 2015 transformed movement in the streets of the city. Residents, business and visitors flocked to use the system which was effective, enjoyable, cheap.and safe.
City residents and workers walked and cycled more and became healthier and more productive. In most streets children now moved about in relative safety and rode or walked to and from school within the central city. The pervading threat of fast cars had been removed. A default 30kph speed limit covered the entire central city ( as it did also in all the transit cities). In many streets the limit was now at 15 kph. and vehicles were limited to trams and buses or service and delivery vehicles and some private cars.
Because of these initiatives to curb speed death and trauma from car crashes fell close to zero by 2018. The medical resources previously devoted to repairing the damage of road trauma were now focussed on the innovative repair and renovation of ageing bodies. Melbourne, already a leader in biomedical technologies became a world centre for these life extension and enhancement procedures in particular the manufacture of facsimile organs for transplant.
Despite strong competition from over 100 cities globally, Melbourne remained the fourth most popular destination for under 35 s and for students. They came here to study, work and to become part of the rich, sociable and vibrant creative culture of the city. Melbourne acquired a strong reputation globally for openness to new people, new ideas and innovation.
By 2020 the age of quick, cheap international travel was passing. Visitors to Melbourne now came for much longer stays. Business in Melbourne was now much more globally connected and work exchanges became more common.
Thanks to the internet international visitors had a full access to the options for work and accommodation in Melbourne and it was easy to put arrangements in place before arriving. Home swaps for short and long stays was also now commonplace.
Melbourne continued to grow as one of the global cities of choice for undergraduate and post-graduate students. Aside from their education they loved Melbourne for the positive life experiences and opportunities it offered them during their stay and by 2018 over half were staying beyond their course duration.
Since the beginning of the century good, inexpensive food had become widely available in the central city stimulated by the influx of students. Cafes and restaurants in Melbourne
were now serving the daily eating needs of residents and visitors to the city.
Central city residents typically ate out or bought nutritious take-a-way most days of the week. New apartments often had only small, basic kitchens for re-heating. Eating out was actually cheaper than eating in and the local dining houses were much more efficient at processing food as well as managing energy use and food waste. Eating out was more sustainable and for single person households, more sociable.
By 2020 food had become nuch more expensive due to rising energy and water costs. About 10% of food consumed in the central city was now grown locally or in nearby transit cities – and the trend was increasing. Body corporates decided to re-deploy their gardening resources to service their members with fresh herbs and tree fruits. Across the city courtyards and rooves were now used to grow food plants.
Council decided to take the lead in developing urban food production in 2015 by giving over portions of parkland to market gardeners for cultivation for fresh produce for the city. This kept green prospect for urban parklands but it also saved the high cost of transporting fresh food and using water.
The local schools partnered with Council and the growers to include practical lessons in agriculture. The children helped with the planting picking and processing as part of their lessons. Adults also became involved in this way through various learning networks. Communal gardening was just as rewarding as private gardening and more sociable.
Melbourne at both the metro and central city levels underwent some radical changes in the decades leading up to 2035.
- It became a fully fledged residential city with a strong sense of neighbourhoods and places.
- It become ever more culturally diverse and forged its own unique fusion of cultures and solved the problems of social exclusion and disadvantage by proactively fostering socio-economic diversity within the city..
- The city consolidated and developed itself as a world leading creative city in the arts and sciences.
- It transformed itself from being one of the least sustainable cities in the world to being one of the most sustainable.
- The city also became much more of a master of its own destiny.
Underlying the ability for the city to make those and other changes was the development of the collective capacity and skill of the city to find the technical and political solutions to move forward successfully. This began with the initiatives at the start of the century to develop Melbourne as a learning city. First there were alliances between the city’s educational institutions, business and government which soon expanded to a much broader engagement and harnessing of the knowledge and skills of all the citizens.
Council was one of the lead organisations. In 2010 it became active as a teaching and learning organisation. And Melbourne the city became an acknowledge centre of expertise in the technology and social organisation of creating a sustainable city. Sophisticated frameworks of research, knowledge exchange, governance and financing had enabled re-shaping of infrastructure. More significantly however by 2020 the residential and business citizens realised they had developed a distinctly new ethos for an urban culture of the 21st