On Monday, the Premier and Planning Minister released the final Plan Melbourne strategy. Widely reported by many media outlets were headline figures such as Melbourne's population in 2051 being revised up to over 7.5 million.
With a multitude of numbers strewn throughout the document suite, it is quite easy to lose perspective of what many of the figures - new dwelling numbers especially - could actually translate in to. How much new urbanism will Melbourne need to build to reach the 2031 and 2050 forecasts?
The old nugget of committing to a "permanent" growth boundary gets its five minutes of extra fame, but most importantly throughout the Implementation Chapter, a breakdown is provided on the forecast required dwellings in each of the five sub-regions.
The central sub-region, shown above, includes the Local Government Areas of Melbourne, Maribyrnong, Port Phillip, Stonnington and Yarra. The current population of this sub-region is 485,000 and by 2031 there is a forecast population growth of between 230,000 and 280,000 being housed in 120,000 to 150,000 new dwellings.
Unlike the other four, the central sub-region is forecast to almost exclusively meet dwelling demand through apartments (100,000-120,000), townhouses, units and flats (15,000-25,000) and a comparatively minuscule 'zero' to 10,000 detached houses bringing up the rear.
To put it into a confronting yet important perspective, the forecast 120,000 new dwellings by 2031 in the central sub-region is the equivalent of:
190x skyscrapers of similar size to EQ Tower (623 apartments).
600x mid-rise developments similar in size to Teri Apartments in South Melbourne (195 apartments).
1900x low-rise developments around the same size as You & I Apartments in Collingwood (63 apartments).
7000x urban corridor in-fill developments the same size as 688-690 High Street in Thornbury (17 apartments).
Reality suggests the inner five councils in the central sub-region will see a mix of all the above - especially if the aforementioned councils liberally implement the new Residential Growth Zone - and just as many apartments are forecast to be built in the other four sub-regions plus many more townhouses and units.
While there is just cause to debate what shape and form Melbourne's new urbanism will look like, how it will function and who it will cater for, the next time you read about an "oversupply" of apartments in Central Melbourne just take a moment to think about the numbers Plan Melbourne puts forward.
We owe a great deal of thanks to a very special group of urbanist thinkers who in the 1980s, when we as a city did a lot of soul searching, put us on this trajectory where we now find State Governments of either colour taking density seriously.
There is a big job to do. Welcome to the new paradigm Melbourne, we have well and truly entered the urbanist's age.