Funding Infrastructure in Growth Areas
A few days ago, renowned urban planner Professor Roz Hansen wrote an article published in the age about the growing divide between established and growth suburbs in Melbourne.
Professor Hansen discusses the gulf between established and growth suburbs in terms of amenities and services available, lifestyle options, jobs and housing, with fewer options available in outer suburbs. Transport (in particular car dependence) and lack of affordable housing are mentioned as two key factors that are compounding issues of social inequalities in Melbourne between inner, middle and outer areas. Inadequate social infrastructure is also a problem.
According to Professor Hansen, Melbourne is at a critical point in terms of setting the direction for the future of Melbourne, and our city's ability to remain the 'Liveable' city it is claimed to be, and this article comes at a time where State government is preparing the latest Metro Strategy (for which Professor Hansen is head of the Ministerial Advisory Committee).
How can Melbourne address this growing divide? Infrastructure (particularly public transport) is massively expensive, and our habit of encouraging sprawling suburbs is still going strong - so how can we fund infrastructure that is needed in these growth areas to limit inequality in our city?
Professor Hansen suggests a levy for all Melburnians:
"Perhaps it is also time that all Melburnians assisted in the funding of essential urban infrastructure in the urban growth areas through a Melbourne metropolitan levy tied to specific projects."
"A new payment would need to be charged annually to all property owners and the basis of the amount to be paid would need to be carefully determined to ensure fairness and equity. Such a levy would be tied to agreed projects and timelines for delivery of those projects in collaboration with local government and other relevant agencies...It might be a hard sell politically, but it is about sharing the benefits and the responsibilities of implementing the strategy."This is an interesting idea that seeks to share the cost of infrastructure.
Seems to me that the levy to provide infrastructure in growth areas may be worth it if it can prevent some of the social problems arising from an increasingly divided city. But are we the ones who should be paying for this? Are those in inner/middle Melbourne paying enough already through higher rents and housing prices? Is it simply a matter of you get what you pay for and is that fair?
What do you think?
Read the article here.