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BLAND, car-dominated new retail centres in Melbourne's growth
suburbs are falling short of the State Government's vision of them
as vibrant, diverse villages around public transport.
An RMIT University study says many outer Melbourne centres fail
Government standards for "activity centres" under the planning
strategy Melbourne 2030.
In a blunt assessment of outer-suburban planning, retail expert
Robin Goodman, who helped write the 2030 policy, says stand-alone
shopping centres continue to dominate.
"We are currently creating places that many of us would not want
to live in," she said. "In some of the outer suburbs … there
are few places to walk to, nowhere to catch up with friends over
coffee or go browsing amongst shops."
Under Melbourne 2030, the Government wants to concentrate
people, workplaces and entertainment around rail, tram and bus
services, and double public transport patronage.
It has earmarked more than 100 activity centres and about 900
smaller neighbourhood centres for higher-density housing to ease
pressure on the urban fringe and older residential streets.
Dr Goodman looked at 21 hubs in growth suburbs and found that
most, even those being planned, failed to meet Government criteria
for activity centres. Only eight had any public transport, and this
was mostly buses that ran hourly.
Dr Goodman said most centres were designed around car parks,
with the expectation customers would arrive by car.
She said a problem for councils and developers was the
Government's lack of commitment to its own plan. "With so little
transport provision, the task of locating activity centres close to
existing public transport is hard to achieve," she said.
The report highlights South Morang — in Melbourne's north
— a major activity centre developed in the expectation of a
train line that now looks unlikely. But the study also found that
where rail services existed, some councils lacked the resolve to
insist that centres be built around them.
In the City of Casey, the East Cranbourne shopping centre will
be built 1.5 kilometres from Cranbourne station and the proposed
East Cranbourne station, the report says.
Dr Goodman said large developers, used to "dictating terms",
also influenced the location of centres. She has called for
tougher, European-style regulations requiring retail centres to be
serviced by public transport and to be within walking distance of
Property Council executive director Jennifer Cunich said the
2030 strategy was good but needed more Government financial
commitment, especially for transport.
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