Melbourne — A Reality Check: Metropolitan Plans, Progress and Prospects

Despite the frequent production of metropolitan strategies in recent years, there has been little examination of how successful they have been in guiding urban growth and change. This is curious considering there are many common features among these plans in pursuing the orthodoxy of the compact city. An examination of the available evidence on the progress and performance of the plans indicates some messy, inefficient, partial and uneven headway. The response of governments to these signals is to make another long-range plan, although a change of government is also a reason for doing this.

One reason for this disjunction is suggested to be the gap between planning proposals and the reality and dynamics of urban development identified when the first of these plans was produced in Melbourne. There is growing recognition of this gap and the need to bridge it. The paper ends by suggesting a couple of current initiatives that could help to do so. Integrating urban research and planning practice may lead to a change in the metropolitan planning process itself and in the nature of the plans.