The conversation

In 2020, the City of Melbourne and the Victorian Planning Authority sought public feedback on the draft Arden Structure Plan. The draft Plan builds on the principles of the Arden Vision, which underwent public consultation in 2016, and was finalised and endorsed by council and State Government in 2018. The vision and the draft Plan begins to set the direction for the development of the Arden precinct over the next thirty years.

Gathering insights

The draft Plan was open for consultation in July and August of 2020. We spoke with Traditional Owner groups, residents, interested community members, neighbourhood associations, landowners, business owners, property and planning groups, and government agencies.

Due to the COVID-19 physical distancing restrictions across Victoria, it was not possible to host planned face-to-face activities. In response to the restrictions, engagement events were hosted online.

Views were captured with online surveys, virtual focus group discussions, phone calls, one-on-one virtual meetings and written submissions. Telephone consultations and interpretation services were available to ensure more people could be reached. The engagement period was extended by two weeks to provide more time to engage as the consultation occurred during the COVID-19 lockdown.

In total 350,000 people were reached via social media, and the views of 490 people recorded.

Feedback we received

440 survey responses

50 written submissions

14 conversations with business owners

What we heard

Feedback identified that the direction of the draft Plan is supported, but that it could go further, in particular for sustainability and affordable housing. People also wanted more detail on how the plan would be implemented. The main concerns were the risk of overdevelopment and loss of neighbourhood character, and the approach to car parking.

Traditional Owner groups were generally supportive of the strategies proposed to embed Aboriginal cultural values and heritage in Arden, and emphasised the need to ensure Arden is encourages cultural inclusion and expression.

Key themes we heard:

People were very supportive of allocating street space for public transport, bikes and pedestrians. There was a strong desire to make the precinct safe, connected and accessible.

People were very supportive of delivering affordable housing in the precinct and thought the plan could be more ambitious than the proposed six per cent target.

People were very supportive of Arden’s ambitions to be a sustainable neighbourhood. People said there were more opportunities that could be considered, and that it would be important that the ambitions are realised in implementation.

People had mixed feelings about the proposed building heights. Some felt that the tall buildings were not sympathetic to the surrounding areas and raised concerns around general overdevelopment. Others felt that a balance is needed to ensure development is feasible. Good design that builds on Arden’s industrial character and heritage was seen as being important to ensuring Arden is a cohesive part of the neighbourhood.

People had mixed feelings about the proposed approach to separate car parking in standalone buildings. People wanted more information how the strategy would work.

Many people were interested in how Arden would be delivered and were seeking further information, including the transition of existing land uses, proposed planning controls, delivery and funding mechanisms, and governance arrangements. Many people were interested in the future role of the North Melbourne Football Club.

Next steps

The final Arden Structure Plan will be shaped by the feedback received. It is anticipated the next round of public consultation on planning for Arden will take place later in 2021.

Read the consultation report