Town & Country Planning Association Inc. submission to the to the Draft Yarra Strategic Plan (March 2020)
The Draft Yarra Strategic Plan is an impressive document. It sets out four objectives that are clear, well-articulated and balanced.
Not surprisingly, the first relates to a healthy river and surrounding lands that are essential to improving water quality. Preserving the natural vegetation, billabongs and habitats is critical. The problems caused by rapid stormwater run-off in urban areas where hard surfaces cover much of the area will require increasing attention (as discussed later in this document).
The second objective is concerned with the heritage of the Yarra river, the Birrarung, and this is where the YSP sets a remarkable precedent: it recognises the role played by the traditional custodians of the lands surrounding the waterway over many thousands of years, and the significance of the river in their culture. It would be a mistake to think that the discovery of a quality water supply by early European settlers was simply a fortuitous historical accident. Continuing engagement of the Wurundjeri Woi wurrung people is a very positive direction.
The third objective recognises the great value of the river’s parklands in supporting the wellbeing of a large population, through recreational and community activities. It is important that parklands along the river are accessible to all, and that pathways are interlinked with one another and with other parklands to provide a continuous network.
The fourth objective is concerned with protecting and celebrating the natural beauty and landscapes along the river.
To these ends, the document presents a detailed land use framework for every reach of the river (upper rural / lower rural / suburban / inner city) from the Upper Yarra Reservoir to Westgate Bridge. It also includes photographs and maps that bring the waterway to life, and is written in a way that invites the readers’ attention and ongoing interest.
The Yarra Strategic Plan should serve not just as an important reference, but as an inspiration to local governments, community groups, water authorities, planning agencies and others involved in its implementation, as well as to anyone interested in the planning, management and use of Melbourne’s waterways and parklands.
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