Melbourne to build mini-CBDs to cope with the population boom
Towering over the low-lying suburbs, it sticks out like a beacon, calling people towards the economic heart of the city.
But in 30 years, there could be other CBDs poking up from the sprawl.
“We’ll have a Werribee skyline,” says Kate Roffey from Wyndham City Council.
“It’s obviously not going to be your New York or Sydney style skyline, but we will have some height and scale here. There’ll be people coming here for work and jobs.”
Looking around at the paddocks — where sheep are grazing — it’s hard to fathom the transformation.
We’re standing by the side of the road just south of Werribee, 30 kilometres west of Melbourne’s CBD.
This is where both the Coalition and Labor plan to have an alternative CBD, or as they call it, a “National Employment and Innovation Cluster”.
The Victorian Planning Authority wants 50,000 people to work here in what will be dubbed Australian Education City — a place where university campuses will converge with research and technology companies.
Multi-billion-dollar companies IBM and Cisco are two businesses reportedly interested in moving to the precinct.
A private consortium is championing the project, and is now waiting on final approval.
Melbourne’s eight cities
It certainly appears to make sense on paper — Melbourne’s west is booming.
Wyndham City Council is adding more people than any area in Melbourne and governments all over the world are championing the idea of “20-minute cities” — where you can get to work and vital amenities from your home in less than 20 minutes.
The bulk of Melbourne’s new homes are likely to be built here, where the urban spread hasn’t yet matched the sprawl to the east.
But can you create a thriving economic hub out of nothing, and expect businesses and jobs to follow?
“We tend to think it’s probably more risky than it is because it’s new, and people say, ‘How can you develop all of this land into something substantive like an education city?” says Ms Roffey.
“But Cisco and IBM want big footprints and that’s something you can’t get in a lot of places anymore. So you just need one [company], the others will come.”
The Victorian Planning Authority is working towards having seven of these mini-CBDs across Melbourne, around Monash University, Parkville, Fishermans Bend, Dandenong, La Trobe University in Bundoora, Sunshine and Werribee.
The idea is to make jobs more accessible to people, as Melbourne sprawls further and further away from the traditional CBD.
Taking inspiration from Texas
Demographer Bernard Salt says the “fried-egg” city model — where the best jobs are in the “rich, creamy yolk” of the city centre — works well for a city of up to 5 million people.
But when the city surpasses 5 million — as Melbourne did a couple of months ago — multiple CBDs are the way to go, Mr Salt says.
He points to examples in the USA, like Dallas-Fort Worth in Texas, which has a similar population to Melbourne and is growing at a similar pace.
“Dallas and Fort Worth are two CBDs separated by about 30 kilometres. In each one of those CBDs, there are Fortune 500 company head offices,” he says.
“It creates a figure-eight configuration for the metropolitan area, which opens up more frontage on the edge of the city for affordable housing.
Multiple CBDs have been in Sydney’s plan for years. The strategy has now been formalised by the Greater Sydney Commission, which has committed to a city of three CBDs: Central Sydney, Parramatta and the area around the planned Badgerys Creek airport in the city’s west.
Parramatta has been developing as a CBD since the 70s — around the time the Australian Tax Office was relocated there.
But Marion Terrell, from the Grattan Institute, points to the harbour city as proof that planned alternative CBDs actually don’t work.
“Parramatta only has 2.3 per cent of [Sydney’s] jobs,” Ms Terrell says.
“And that’s exactly the same proportion that it had five years ago. So it’s just keeping pace — it’s not growing.
“And it’s been decades that governments have been trying to promote the growth of Parramatta.”
Ms Terrell says, despite what people may think, most of the jobs aren’t in the traditional CBD either.
In Melbourne, just 15.5 per cent of jobs are in the CBD, Southbank and Docklands. And that percentage share hasn’t changed much in five years, despite the skyrocketing population growth. It’s a similar story in Sydney.
Read more at Source ABC