Melbourne is about to begin the biggest urban renewal project in its history and the biggest in the nation. With the city set to overtake Sydney in terms of population by 2035, we need to step up and get our infrastructure and planning right, writes City of Melbourne planning chair Nicholas Reece.

Rather than being fearful or playing to the politics of division, we have an enormous opportunity to manage this growth well through smart planning and high-quality urban design.  We want a city that is bigger and better.

We’re activating more than 1,000 hectares of land in inner metro Melbourne - five times the size of the city centre grid. At Fisherman’s Bend, an old industrial area, we will create 80,000 thousand jobs and house 80,000 new residents.

With co-ordinated investment from state and federal government, we’re confident we can build a sustainable, liveable and connected communities.

Council recently endorsed Melbourne Planning Scheme C308 Urban Design in the Central City and Southbank, which proposes to introduce new urban design provisions into the planning scheme along with a guide to improve urban design quality.

We want encourage development that gives back to the public realm, not featureless glass towers that are nothing more than spreadsheets in the sky.

Melbourne is famous for its high quality streets so we will not tolerate poor-quality design reducing public amenity.

This means the highest standards of architecture and design, using higher quality materials especially at the street level to enhance the community experience when walking around the city. 

The Design Guide is now a nationally awarded project that aims to provide a design standard for all Australian cities.

We want everyone who contributes to our city to be committed to design-led planning and the integration of open space in our city’s design. 

It is more important than ever that we demand high quality private development that adds to our city’s character and liveability.

We know how important parks and gardens are to our city, so aim to increase open space by 240,000 square metres over the next 15 years.

That’s equivalent to adding more than 12 MCGs of open space to the city. These open spaces are so important to people’s physical and mental wellbeing.

Melbourne is now a city of five million people but we have transport infrastructure suitable for a city of three million, so there is a lot of catching up to do.

That is one reason why the City has released our Transport Strategy, a 10 year document with a 30-year vision to guide our decision making on transport.