For nearly a century, Melbourne, Victoria has embraced metropolitan planning, strategic planning conducted at the metropolitan-scale, as one of the main processes by which improvements to its prized built environment can be made. Relatedly, metropolitan planning may be used to provide assurances with respect to the development of property. This notion has been termed certainty. Certainty has today become a significant preoccupation within Melbourne metropolitan planning. For the past two decades, Melbourne’s metropolitan planning documents have increasingly stressed the importance of its actions in providing certainty. Despite this preoccupation, very little is known about the provision of certainty or its origins, especially within a Melbourne context. Moreover, while several people have documented Melbourne’s metropolitan planning history, none have done so with respect to this provision. This paper aims to address these gaps by exploring how the provision of certainty has developed over time in Melbourne metropolitan planning, from its beginnings in the 1920s to the present-day. It begins by explaining the notion of certainty and how it is provided. It finds that certainty with respect to development can only be provided through statutory planning controls. Next, it presents an abridged chronology of statutory planning controls in Victoria. This is divided into three sections based on the level at which these controls operated. These three sections are interspersed with analyses of Melbourne’s eight metropolitan planning documents and their effect on these controls. It finishes with some critical reflections. Ultimately, this paper finds that certainty in Victoria has, for the most part, been provided at the local level. Briefly, it was provided at the Melbourne metropolitan level. It was only during this period that Melbourne’s metropolitan planning documents were able to actually affect its provision. Despite rhetoric to the contrary, Melbourne’s metropolitan plans in recent times do not and cannot provide certainty.
The author 2018
Proceedings of the 14th Australasian Urban History Planning History Conference 2018