5. Living and working in a dense urban centre
To become an eco-city the living, working, cultural and recreational activities of the municipality will be integrated into a dense and liveable urban ecosystem at the hub of a metropolitan network of similar urban nodes, creating environmental, economic, social and health benefits alike for the metropolitan area and the municipality.
Since the 1950s, Melbourne has developed as a sprawling low-density metropolis. Today, most people depend on motor vehicles to go about their daily activities, and goods and services are freighted large distances within the city. This pattern has also driven agriculture beyond the metropolitan area, so food has to be freighted into the city every day.
Our high levels of personal, business and freight travel are a significant source of greenhouse emissions and increased costs to household and businesses.
Most Melburnians would prefer to have their homes, workplaces, schools, shopping social and other activities conveniently close by. This is why since the 1980's many are now moving into urban centres such as the municipality of Melbourne where most daily trips for home, work, school and recreation can be done easily and in a short time, on foot or by bicycle.
To be an eco-city the municipality needs to have a high density of different types of activities, give priority for walking and cycling
as the most logical and most sustainable transport options. New urban growth will need to focus around existing and proposed rail stations and tram routes, particularly along the main roads and boulevards in the municipality (known as transit-oriented development).
The development of similar urban nodes forming a network of mixed-use urban centres across the metropolitan area, connected by regular, high-speed sustainable transport and freight services
will start to build a metropolitan urban ecosystem that will be more economic, more liveable and environmentally sustainable in the future.
Increasing residential population density in the municipality
Currently the municipality has a low residential density of 22 residents / hectare (or 13 dwellings per hectare). However, our population density increases to a high 212 people / hectare if daily visitors are added to the counts.
Each day, visitors to the municipality outnumber residents 10 to one. Business-as-usual trend population projections to 2020 for the municipality show residential population reaching 140,000 (currently 86,000) while daily visitor numbers (including workers) should reach 1,000,000 (currently 700,000). This projected daily visitor population presents a major transport challenge.
If more of these people both lived and worked within the municipality this would reduce the daily visitor transport task without increasing the number of people in the city daily. Pro-actively encouraging increasing residential density in the inner city will strengthen its sustainability.
The six-storey (medium rise) apartment block is the optimum building type for energy efficiency and can accommodate the household densities Inner Melbourne will require. This development standard could generate the density required for pedestrian comfort and a good public transport system. Implementation of this height limit will need to acknowledge and respond to heritage values.
Giving priority to walking and cycling
Inner Melbourne has an excellent road network that could be very suitable for walking and cycling. The current high volumes and speeds of motor vehicles in this network could be reduced in favour of walking and cycling, and the proportion of road space allocated to walkers and cyclists could be increased.
Changes are already happening in the central city, such as the separated bike lane along the north end of Swanston Street. Change of this nature could be accelerated and significantly expanded, eventually forming a network of safe and attractive routes throughout the inner metropolitan area.
Develop a metropolitan network of urban centres
The Victorian Government's Melbourne 2030
sets out a long-term vision for a network of activity centres and transit cities connected by tram and high-speed rail public transport. Activity centres will increasingly provide employment, accommodation and recreation, and the municipality will include the largest of these centres.
The municipality will be the heart of a network of similar but smaller urban centres forming a more sustainable and powerfully connected metropolitan region. The City of Melbourne will foster functional links with Footscray (identified as a transit city), the municipality's closest urban centre, and will work to create and strengthen sustainable transit links with all surrounding cities, towns and communities.
Between these urban nodes lower density suburbs would become more energy efficient and greener.
Developing local food production
Urban agriculture can reduce environmental impacts and increase the resilience of urban food supplies by:
- reducing vulnerability to oil prices
- reducing food miles and greenhouse emissions
- making use of alternative agricultural inputs such as stormwater, wastewater and food waste
- reducing land conflict between food production, biodiversity and biofuels.
City of Melbourne residents, restaurants and businesses will increasingly source more fresh foodstuffs grown and processed locally, and therefore reduce the financial and greenhouse gas costs of food freight. Food-yielding trees and plants may be incorporated into public parks and private body corporate gardens. Space will be used intensively, including rooftop and wall gardens.
Throughout the metropolitan region, food will be produced in and between urban centres and distributed locally and regionally. Up to one third of food consumed in the city will be sourced locally or regionally. Organic waste including food waste may be collected and processed locally as compost.
A sustainable mixed use urban centre
The central city will have a greater proportion of residents to daily visitors. It will be the metropolitan region's principal mixed use high-density sustainable urban centre linked by good public transport to other similar urban nodes.
The proportion of residents to daily visitors
Target: 18 per cent
Current: 11 per cent
The municipality has become dense and walkable mixed use urban centre. New development has been in buildings at around six storeys. There is a dynamic mix of residential, employment, retail and cultural activities and opportunities, linked by fast public transport to other similar urban nodes in the metropolitan area.
Better population balance
Increase the number of people to both live and work in the municipality.
Proportion of people who live and work in the municipality
Target: 65 per cent
Current: 42 per cent
Many more people now live and work within the municipality and prefer to walk or cycle to work, school, shopping and for recreation.
More locally produced food
Increase production, distribution and consumption of locally and regionally grown food.
Increase proportion of fresh food consumed locally but grown within 50km of the municipality.
Target: 30 per cent
Current: data to be collected.
| A thriving niche market for locally grown fresh produce supplied by rooftop gardens, under franchise agreements with building owners corporations. Melbourne has an international reputation for its many 'food mile' restaurants who serve delicious cuisine made from produce sourced within 50km of the central city. Open spaces enable local residents to cultivate food for their own consumption or for sharing on a not-for-profit basis.