What’s Next for Melbourne: Victorian Planning Authority Urban Renewal Director Emily Mottram Looks at the Big Picture

Emily Mottram practices what she preaches. The city planner is an enthusiastic inner-city dweller. She likes to walk to work and seldom uses her car.

“My son gets excited when he gets into the car because it happens so rarely he thinks it’s a special occasion,” she says, laughingly.

Mottram is the director of urban renewal at the Victorian Planning Authority, the government body that looks after the big-picture planning for the state and she focuses on inner-city projects.

Coincidentally she was one of the pioneers of CBD living and moved into Majorca Building on Flinders Lane in the 1990s.

“Melbourne is such a magical, amazing place to live – it’s so diverse and fantastic.”

She now lives in North Carlton and feels like the city’s parks, gardens and museums are in her backyard.

“It’s a city of hidden gems – all the work around the laneways that the City of Melbourne has done so well in terms of reframing the city is fantastic.”

Working in the VPA offices at the top of Collins Street means that Mottram knows all the best places for coffee. Walking down Flinders Lane, she peers into Cumulus Inc – too busy – then ducks into Tom Thumb cafe for a chat.

Photo: article supplied

The city planner reveals she had a very urban upbringing, growing up in a London terrace house in the 1970s. She remembers idyllic childhood days playing outside in the terrace’s triangular communal garden.

Her dad was an architect who often brought her along to see his work. Later on, the family lived in Oman for eight years when her dad was converting a fort into a museum.

Not surprisingly, Mottram developed an interest in cities and buildings and decided to study social and environmental planning when she moved to Melbourne.

“I was very passionate about environmental issues,” she says.

Her first job was as a social planner for Hobsons Bay City Council, then on the edge of Melbourne, where she oversaw the development of the Seabrook Community Centre.

“The city I came to in the mid ’80s has changed so dramatically,” she says.

She returned to the UK in the early 2000s to provide advice to councils on redeveloping public housing estates.

“When I flew in the last time to Gatwick Airport, I could see out of the window of the plane part of the city that I had a hand in.”

One of the difficult things about working as a planner is that it takes so long before you see your projects completed, she says.

This was originally published by Domain.

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Hear Emily Mottram speak at the 2017 International Urban Design Conference this November!

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Translating Policy to Place: Planning High Quality Precincts in the World’s Most Liveable City

The 10th International Urban Design Conference will be held at Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa, Gold Coast, Queensland from Monday 13 – Tuesday 14 November 2017.

Emily Mottram, Director of Urban Renewal at Victorian Planning Authority is a keynote speaker at this year’s Conference, presenting “Translating policy to place – planning high quality precincts in the world’s most liveable city”.

Emily Mottram

Melbourne trades on its legacy of good planning by the Victorians and its title of the world’s most liveable city. It is also experiencing record breaking population growth, economic restructuring and climate change. Infrastructure investment is reshaping and reframing the city as we know it.

There is a strong policy basis set out through Plan Melbourne 2017-2050 to focus 70% of residential growth into established areas. The Victorian Planning Authority is working in precincts across Melbourne to translate this policy intent into high quality place based outcomes. A key challenge is to achieve exemplary contextual design to ensure we have a social licence to act.

This presentation will use a series of case studies from inner and middle Melbourne to reflect upon the opportunities and evolving tools for precinct renewal.

This year the International Urban Design Conference offers optional tours available on Wednesday 15 November. These will include visiting two of the precincts that have been designed and built for the 2018 Commonwealth Games held on the Gold Coast in April 2018.

Find out more here.

Land of opportunity – accommodating population and social diversity from the ashes of manufacturing

Preston is a typical Melbourne working class suburb characterised by industrial properties along key routes with surrounding ¼ acre worker housing.

The recent decline in Australian manufacturing has resulted in many sites becoming vacant and jobs going out of these areas.  In many cases these vacated sites are large enough to accommodate significant residential, commercial and civic infrastructure and therefore generate local employment.

They also present a great opportunity for exemplary urban design outcomes due to the sheer scale.

Oakover Square is such a property.  This proposal is an example of industrial land being successfully knitted back into its suburban context.  It provides an urban village development model based on a series of “key moves” designed to establish meaningful community connections and a high level of liveability, as follows:

  1. Net positive urban outcome – protected public and private amenity, favourable aspect to and from buildings, an architecture that is highly expressive
  2. Contribution to public open space – an urban square at the heart of the site provides space and amenity for the residents and all the community
  3. Hierarchy of streets – primary streets widened to facilitate access and enhanced through landscaping, the green streets and pocket parks create attractive amenity for residents
  4. Enable modes of public transport – a highly porous pedestrian and bicycle network and inter-modal public transport exchange
  5. Vertical green amenity – ground level community and commercial uses integrated with landscape, first floor child care with open play areas and upper level green terraces accessible to residents.
  6. Encourage Social diversity – a mix of housing types, diverse employment opportunities and a collection of buildings with individual character and identity.

The development convenes around a central public square with a grid of internal streets and lanes which are generated from the surrounding context.  Combined with pocket parks these provide a series of gathering places of different scales and levels of intimacy.

A multi-generational village is created through offering a variety of residential options.  Localised retail and soho suites activate the ground plane and connect with the existing grain.  Vertical layering enriches the experience through multi-level greenery, providing secluded havens, enhanced amenity and visual stimulation.

The idea is relaxed enough to allow each of the pieces its own character and an equivalence of urban space-making between buildings and open areas.

While subject to statutory height limits, the investment of social capital such as child care, aged care and affordable housing, combined with the contribution of public open space, provides community benefits which justify a significant uplift in scale.

The consequential additional height provides the necessary critical mass of residential infrastructure to support the financial, operational and commercial feasibility of the place.

The overall impression is a sophisticated approach to urban place-making with the feel of a highly energised and individual local living hub.  This is type of outcome we need to address the increased demand for housing in these inner city suburbs.

Murray Brassington
Partner – Commercial
BALDASSO CORTESE

 

 

Melbourne Lanes To Go Green

Coromandel Place, Guildford Lane, Katherine Place and Meyers Place are set to be transformed into green leafy spaces as part of the ‘Green Your Laneway’ pilot project by City of Melbourne.

Working closely with residents and businesses, City of Melbourne has developed a range of preliminary concept designs for each laneway showing a range of greening options that are being investigated for each lane.

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With over two hundred laneways in the central city, totalling nearly nine hectares, the Green Your Laneway program was established to help transform the city’s laneways into leafy, green and useable spaces with vertical gardens, new trees and new places to sit and relax. The program seeks to enhance the experience of Melbourne’s laneways further, with the opportunity to transform them into the ‘city’s back yard.’ Concepts being investigated include potential for vertical greening, trees, and places to dwell and relax.

The selected laneways are Coromandel Place, Guildford Lane, Meyers Place and Katherine Place. Initial design concepts have been developed for each with further community engagement to refine the concepts, funded by the City of Melbourne.

Invitations are open for the public to share their views on the ideas by exploring the range of greening approaches being worked on with the stakeholders in each laneway. You can also provide your feedback and sign-up for updates on each laneway page.

The City of Melbourne, through our Urban Forest Strategy, has a comprehensive plan for greening major streets and precincts, but not the smaller laneways. Across the municipality, laneways occupy a ground area of 60 hectares, with a further 150 hectares of space on the walls in these laneways.

The Green Your Laneway pilot project investigates the opportunity for lanes to be greened for the following reasons:

  • providing shading and local cooling
  • improved aesthetics and local amenity
  • ecological benefits
  • health and wellbeing flow on effects
  • increasing landscape permeability (and hence flood mitigation and passive watering)
  • creating opportunities for relaxation and recreation.

Read more.

Australia’s cities are green but they also have some major flaws

Australia’s major cities are in danger of becoming miserable metropolises full of unhappy residents unless more investment is made in public transport and there’s some relief from the high cost of living.

The country’s capitals are also ill prepared for natural disasters and would struggle to cope in the face of a major terrorist attack.

That’s the conclusion of an innovative study that ranked 100 of the world’s cities according to how they fared when it came to social, economic and environmental factors — or, as the research lists them — people, profit and planet.

Canberra is Australia’s happiest and most sustainable city.Source:News Corp Australia
Canberra is Australia’s happiest and most sustainable city. Source:News Corp Australia

And unlike many other surveys of global cities, the Sustainable Cities Index placed Melbourne below its archrival of Sydney.

“A lot of people get confused with sustainability being just about the environment but, by our definition, balancing immediate needs of the population without compromising the needs of tomorrow is the heart of a sustainable city,” said Greg Steele, chief executive officer of design and consultancy firm Arcadis’ Australia Pacific arm, which commissioned the research.

The world’s most sustainable city was Zurich, which scored highest on environmental metrics for being a profit centre. But it fell because of the lack of work-life balance and high prices in the Swiss city.

Singapore, Stockholm, Vienna and London were also in the top five.

Asked which global city balanced profit, planet and people most successfully, Mr Steele highlighted Canberra, which is the highest ranked Australian city and the 18th most sustainable city worldwide.

Mr Steele said the ACT’s single level of government meant things got done quickly and initiatives, such as Canberra’s new light rail, were going to keep it on top.

But just like Australia’s other major cities, a lack of affordable housing had dragged it down.

And if Canberrans think they’ve got it bad, just head up the road.

Melbourne was down the list of Australia’s most sustainable cities. Picture: Mark StewartSource:News Corp Australia
Melbourne was down the list of Australia’s most sustainable cities. Source:News Corp Australia

Despite the multitude of catastrophic events, from floods in Brisbane to bushfires on the outskirts of Melbourne, the report found dealing with disasters including possible terrorist attacks, wasn’t a priority.

In the global rankings, Sydney was the world’s 21st most sustainable city, Brisbane the 30th and Melbourne 32nd.

The harbour city’s collection of world class universities and its generally healthier population pulled it in front of Melbourne and Brisbane. The Victorian capital also scored worse on the environmental front than Sydney.

Yet last month, the Economist Intelligence Unit found Melbourne the world’s most liveable city with Sydney kicked out of the global leaderboard due to the “heightened perceived threat of terrorism”.

He also said that the Arcadis survey measured something else: happiness — or the lack of.

A successful work life balance as well as a quick commute were factors that helped residents get happy.

Read more.