PROTECTING OUR PARKS
In Victoria we pride ourselves on having a clean, healthy environment and a liveable city.
With 70 percent of Victorians living in urban environments in greater Melbourne, open space is critically important to the liveability of our suburbs and is highly valued by the community. Parks can improve physical and mental health, provide ecosystem services and urban biodiversity.
However, across Melbourne, open space is being lost to increasing populations and urban consolidation. With the urban backyard is shrinking in size, public green space is all the more important.
Even if all the green open space we have today were protected, the amount of open space we have per person will continue to decline as our population grows.
Successive state governments have provided little oversight and strategic planning for the provision of public open space across metropolitan Melbourne. Meaning some local council areas have more than others.
The Napthine Government is exploiting this lack of Victorian overarching open space laws to ram through the East West Tollway, which would see a permanent loss of open space in Royal Park and parkland in the Moonee Valley Council area. This is contrary to municipal open space plans, but there is no law to stop it.
Successive governments have also undervalued the importance of parks and outdoor recreational facilities to our health and wellbeing. The word ‘health’ is mentioned only once in our planning and environment law, yet we know the design of our urban environment, the amount of green open space, and access to active transport options are critical to our health.
To secure the long term liveability of Melbourne and meet the needs of our growing population, the Greens will develop a public open space strategy for metropolitan Melbourne. This strategy will:
- systematically set green space targets and guidelines to ensure no suburb in Melbourne losses its liveability;
- protect our public green spaces from being lost to developments, such as the East-West tollway, and increase our public green spaces in areas where there are shortages; and
- provide $5 million in grants to local council to improve the quality of our existing green space.
The Greens will also:
- amend our planning scheme and planning provisions to ensure community health and wellbeing is a central consideration in developments.
The Greens’ plan will ensure children and adults have green outdoor spaces to play in now and into the future.
GREEN SPACE AND HEALTH
Having well designed, liveable neighbourhoods, with plenty of green open space, outdoor recreational facilities, walkable and rideable streets, public transport, and local shops selling fresh produce, are critical to public health and wellbeing.
There is widespread evidence that living close to urban green spaces like parks and trails can increase residents’ levels of physical activity, reduce the likelihood of being overweight, and of having diabetes and several types of cancer . It can also lower the incidence of domestic violence, stress and depression .
Yet, health and wellbeing is not an objective of our planning act. In fact, creating healthy neighbourhoods is not a consideration anywhere in our Planning and Environment Act. This has got to change. The Greens will introduce legislation that:
- includes the promotion of environments that protect and encourage public health and wellbeing in the objectives of Victorian Planning and Environment Act and Victorian Planning Provisions
- requires planning authorities to conduct a Health Impact Assessment for major planning decisions, such as major urban developments or infrastructure developments, like the East West tollway
- requires Municipal Strategic Statements to be consistent with Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plans.
LOSS OF GREEN SPACE AND OUR PLANNING DEFICIT
Currently 4.2 million people live in Melbourne. Victoria’s population is currently growing by 2,100 extra people each week. By 2061 this is projected to increase to between 7.6 million and 9.8 million. Protecting and expanding our green open spaces will be critical to support such a large population.
Currently there is little oversight of the provision of public open space across metropolitan Melbourne. Responsibility for providing open space is allocated to local governments under Victorian planning laws. This creates a lack of overall direction in strategic planning for open space across Melbourne. It has also resulted in some areas having more green space than others. There are no safeguards as to minimum levels and no targets or guidelines for councils to work towards. As a result, established inner-city municipalities generally have less open space per capita than outer and growth municipalities.
The government has failed to deliver on its commitment in the Plan Melbourne Strategy to develop a Melbourne Open Space Strategy. The Greens believe we need clear and decisive action now.
The Greens open space plan will create an overarching framework that ensures no suburb in Melbourne losses its liveability through loss of green and open space, poor quality outdoor recreational facilities, or insufficient planning for population growth. It will lock in no net loss of green space, set minimum and best practice targets for open space, identify innovative solutions for creating more green space, and ensure open space contributions for major developments and subdivisions meet targets.
The Napthine Government is exploiting the lack of overarching open space policy and laws to ram through the East West tollway proposal, which would see a permanent loss of green space in Royal Park, along the Moonee Ponds Creek and in other parts of the Moonee Valley Council area. Further, during construction there will be a temporary loss of green space in a far greater area.
Parkland areas at risk from the tollway include those in the West Parkville and the Manningham Reserve area of Royal Park - Trin Warren Tam-bore wetlands and Ross Straw Field. At risk in the Moonee Valley Council area are Ormond Park, Fenton Reserve, Debney’s Park, Travancore Park, Moonee Valley Creek and Flemington and Essendon Community Gardens.
We are the only party you can trust to stop the East-West Tollway.