Battle lines drawn over 'dumb growth' in city fringe

TENSION is mounting between the City of Melbourne and the state government over plans for large-scale developments on the CBD's fringe.

Last week City of Melbourne councillors voted to dispute a state government decision to approve a 239 metre tall Southbank development.

Councillors argued the development was too high and did not fit with the City of Melbourne's vision for the neighbourhood's growth.

Developments greater than 25,000 square metres are automatically referred to the state planning minister for approval, a rule lord mayor Robert Doyle and councillors say should be abolished. Cr Doyle said Planning Minister Matthew Guy ruled on developments on a case-by-case basis whereas the council considered its planning vision for an area. "There's always going to be tension between those two things and I don't shy away from that," he said. "I don't care what colour the state government is, I'll go in to bat for the City of Melbourne."

He said he was not against development. "The big question for us is: is it smart growth or dumb growth? Dumb growth is just saying 'yep we can throw up towers anywhere we want as high as we like and it doesn't matter'. Well it does matter, because the overall effect of that will be a diminution in our liveability and our way of life."

The council is finalising its planning vision for the inner-north, including North and West Melbourne and Carlton. North Melbourne's Residents About Integrated Development last week joined City of Melbourne staff at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to appeal another development approved by Mr Guy. Woolworths plans to build 300 apartments, including a 55 metre tower, in Canning Street.

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