Monthly Archives: September 2012

Begging for Reason: My Submission to the Victorian Zone Review

This is a very slightly edited version of my submission, lodged last Friday, to the review of Victorian zones. The period for comment has just been extended until 28 September 2012; I urge everyone to make a submission.

The changes currently proposed to the zones are extensive, covering all major categories of zone (residential, business / commercial, industrial, and rural) and involving multiple significant changes to each zone. The proposed reforms mix together changes that were contemplated under the previous government and the subject of considerable work (the “three-speed” residential zones) with others that have appeared with little foreshadowing (most of the others). Very little information or strategic justification has been provided with this package.

I am a keen proponent of planning system reform and in previous submissions to reviews and writing on system reform have prided myself on providing constructive criticism. Unfortunately the paucity of information makes it difficult to be positive or constructive about this review as the information provided gives a striking sense that these reforms have been rushed and poorly thought through. They also appear to involve policy shifts – notably a weakening of activity centre policy – that are inappropriate ahead of the completion of the Metropolitan Strategy.

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Fred Mitchell’s Shots of 1950s and 1960s Melbourne

I just discovered that my great uncle, Fred Mitchell, is selling his photos as prints on RedBubble. Fred’s photos have been a source of admiration in my family for years, but it’s nice to see them readily available somewhere that a wider audience can view and order them.

While his collection is very wide and full of good stuff, it’s his photos of mid-twentieth century Melbourne that I keep going back to: in addition to their intrinsic attractiveness, they are fascinating for their portrait of daily life in 1950s Melbourne. (One of his products is a calendar collecting together many of the best).

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Did the Minister Tip His Hand on Activity Centres in the Regional Press?

City Nightlife

Looking through the DPCD’s proposed new zones you can draw a number of conclusions about what the strategic beliefs underpinning them are, even where those beliefs aren’t really spelt out in the material released by DPCD (as I noted the other day, the material accompanying the review is a little thin, to put it mildly).

One of the underlying assumptions seems to be that we don’t need to worry about activity centres so much. The Minister has already moved to allow more kinds of big-box retail to move to industrial land outside of centres (which I talked about here and here); these new changes would allow small supermarkets and offices to join that exodus.

There isn’t a very clear statement in the material about where this leaves traditional activity centre policy. However, speaking to a regional paper, the Minister has given more idea of what his thinking on the issue is.

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Rome, Denver, and Parking Controls

As a brief follow-up to two unrelated posts – my comments on car parking controls, and my discussion of the merits of Google Earth’s 3D views for conceptualising the city form – I thought it might be interesting to post two Google Earth images of very different cities: Rome and Denver.

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