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    Victorian planning minister takes international field trip for urban planning ideas

    Nathan Johnson

    Melbourne’s Fishermans Bend could end up looking like Toronto’s Waterfront or Brooklyn’s Naval Yards, that’s if the Victorian Minister for Planning took notes during his recent work excursion.

    Richard Wynne recently took a field trip through urban renewal sites in North America and met with international planning experts to examine how best-practice urban planning can be applied in Melbourne.

    Over nine days, Wynne met with chief planners, state ministers, local governments and leading planners in Vancouver, Toronto, New York and Chicago, four cities, he says, that face similar challenges to Melbourne.

    In Canada, Wynne met with Vancouver’s City Hall and visited the South East False Creeks site, which was home to the city’s 2010 Winter Olympics village and is now under redevelopment. He also visited Toronto’s waterfront redevelopment which he says shares parallels with Melbourne’s Fishermans Bend.

    In New York, he visited the Brooklyn Naval Yards, the Brooklyn Bridge Park and the High Line, areas which have been transformed through smart planning to create jobs and more housing.

    Inclusionary zoning, which is being delivering as part of Plan Melbourne, has been used in Brooklyn to deliver more than 20,000 units in the last decade.

    In Chicago, Wynne met with the city’s Architecture Foundation, visited the Marina City development and the successful “606” parkland project.

    Wynne says the four cities visited face similar challenges to Melbourne, such as the need to stimulate jobs growth, accommodate growing populations and improve housing affordability.

    “These are cities experiencing growth and housing affordability pressures, which show us how we can achieve a healthy social and economic mix in urban renewal areas.”

    “There are more than 600 hectares of under-used and old industrial land around inner Melbourne which we can develop and we’re making sure detailed planning work sets a new international benchmark.”

    LOCALS FEAR NOT

    Wynne isn’t the only state planning minister looking overseas for inspiration.

    The urban renewal project in Sydney’s Bays Precinct has also involved extensive international consultation with the world’s best urban planners.

    In late 2014, an international summit addressing the prospect of urban renewal at the Bays Precinct was a huge success according to the then Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) NSW Chapter President Joe Agius.

    But Agius was also quick to soothe concerns from locals that they were being overlooked in the consultation process. He said that events like the Sydney summit were just to develop ideas and that the detail would come later with local oriented collaborative events. 

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