Conference paper

When system becomes strategy: next steps in Victorian neoliberal planning

18 Jun 2018

The Victorian government released its 2017 Melbourne planning strategy at the same time it opened a tender to private providers for the development of a new planning system. This approach continues the trend by Australian state governments towards broad and often ineffectual strategies for capital cities and the development of neo-liberal planning systems. Tender criteria for the new Victorian planning system constitute a new stage in the development of a neo-liberal system by contracting out a process formerly regarded as the responsibility largely of the public sector. This paper examines the ways that weak strategy and powerful deregulation are expressed in policy and legal frameworks to transfer strategic power through the statutory system to powerful market forces. It shows that this approach generally follows the framework originally provided by the Development Assessment Forum and adopted by planning ministers. The new Melbourne strategy promotes unrestricted development in activity centres but contains few specific policies. At the same time the planning system further liberalises zones. In particular, the lack of effective policy for high rise development and the development impacts of a recent central city planning amendment will be examined in detail. The likely effects of policy omissions from the strategy together with statutory facilitation of development in key sectors such as retailing policy are also examined. Enabling and facilitative statutory provisions on major land use issues are sufficiently powerful to constitute strategic intent and policy, and to allow interest groups to direct urban growth.

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