Melbourne has just become bigger. Much bigger in fact. Already one of the world’s largest cities by geographic size – stretching 100km’s from east to west – Victoria’s Parliament voted in favour of expanding Melbourne by a further 43,600 hectares to accommodate further residents.
The land, roughly equal in size to four Phillip Islands, is on the city’s western, northern and south-eastern fringes. The expansion is the biggest change to the size of Melbourne in almost a decade and will destroy thousands of hectares of Melbourne’s green-wedge land as well as fertile food-growing areas to Melbourne’s east.
Whilst an increasing Melbourne population is good for the economy, questions are raised regarding services, including public transport, in these new areas. The government says it has an integrated housing and transport plan with housing-growth areas tied to existing or planned transport links.
Housing expansion in the west is expected to be served by the planned new Regional Rail Link, but questions remain about services to the north and south-east. Melbourne’s outer suburbs have limited access to public transport, especially rail and residents rely much more heavily on cars to travel to the city than inner-suburban dwellers.
The expansion is to accommodate an additional 134,000 homes for Melbourne and provide 20 years of land supply for new housing.