When I became Lord Mayor, I wanted Council to create a strategy for the future; to outline what goals we wanted to achieve. The plan we turned to was Future Melbourne. The community created this plan in 2008 and in 2009 my Council set out, as best we could to implement that plan in our term of office.

A lot has changed in the past eight years. So late last year, Council approved a process to refresh the plan’s 10 year vision and goals for the future of our city.

We have appointed a group of six ambassadors to lead and guide Future Melbourne 2026: a strategy to ensure Melbourne’s future prosperity and status as the world’s most liveable city, attracting and nurturing talent.

We are extremely fortunate to have the esteemed Professor Glyn Davis, Vice Chancellor at The University of Melbourne as our Chair. The five ambassadors, champions in their field, joining Professor Davis are:

  • Marita Cheng, 2012 Young Australian of the Year, and Founder and CEO of 2Mar Robotics;
  • Tracey Fellows, CEO of REA Group;
  • Maria Katsonis, Director, Equality, Department of Premier and Cabinet;
  • Rob McGauran, Co-founder, MGS Architects and
  • Kate Auty, Professorial Fellow, The University of Melbourne and Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, Victoria (2009-2014).

These thought leaders will open, stimulate and inform the initial phase of the public conversation about the future of Melbourne on five future trends: the digital city, climate change, future economies, urban growth and density, and citizens and government.

The ambassadors will deliver the completed Future Melbourne 2026 Plan to Council at the conclusion of the project in August 2016.

Future Melbourne 2026 will guide our decisions about the city’s future, just as the original Future Melbourne Plan did. It is about making Melbourne a city where people love to live, work, visit or enjoy themselves. It has to be easy for them to do that and easy for them to get around. That is where we are and that is the future.

Every piece of research tells me that a sustainable city that offers a high quality of life will attract the best and the brightest and that’s what drives innovation and economic growth.

As city leaders we are focussed on what gives our cities vitality, successful city communities, how we can attract innovation, creativity and stimulate economic growth.

In the years from 2007 to 2012, the central city economy grew by $20 billion and we have added 77,000 new jobs.

They are in smart industries like business services, employment, finance and insurance, real estate, public administration and safety, cleantech, education and training and health care.

We call these ‘knowledge economy workers’. They are smart and enthusiastic. They want to live near their place of employment and they want to enjoy a quality lifestyle. These knowledge economy workers are a major driver of our economy now and will have an even bigger impact into the future.

Deloitte Access Economics forecasts white collar employment growth in the Melbourne CBD office market of 2.7 per cent in 2015, up from 1.7 per cent in 2014.

We have added more than 700,000 square meters of commercial office stock in the CBD and 670,000 square meters in Southbank and Docklands over the last decade.

For the last two years, the Melbourne CBD has set the record for most invested CBD in the nation, with commercial office sales in 2014 approaching $3 billion. This is compared with average total commercial office sales in the CBD grid of $1 billion per year over the last decade.

As a result, the Melbourne CBD office market now accounts for the highest amount of A-grade space across Australia’s office markets. Knight Frank’s April 2015 report shows vacancy rates in that stock at 7.9 per cent. Retail vacancy rates remain stable at 2.5 per cent down from 3.9 per cent for the same period in 2014.

Our city has become a magnet for business and that means jobs.

And the construction boom in the office market is matched by the construction boom in residential stock.

We have 600 hectares of land in close proximity to the CBD waiting to be developed. Development of Southbank, Docklands, E-Gate, Arden/Macaulay and Fishermen’s Bend will swell the CBD to six times its present size. How do we make such a city walkable and safe and easy to navigate on a bike? How do we keep it liveable?

When I consider what the two councils I’ve worked with have achieved it’s not so much the towers and the buildings that have been approved or refused that strike me as the important city making decisions.

Building a ‘city for people’ is about keeping pace with our changing population by having well planned infrastructure and services, providing safe and welcoming public spaces and supporting people to stay healthy, socially connected and engaged with their community.

I encourage you to have your say on the future of the most liveable city in the world.