Land is a very important asset that must be planned for effectively in order to ensure that it gives maximum output while remaining sustainable. According to Koomen and Beurden (2011, p. 73), land is an asset which is scarce and very fragile, making it necessary to develop mechanisms of using it in a wise manner.
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However, it is of great concern that the society has not come to appreciate the importance of land as a scarce and a fragile asset that needs protection in order to ensure that there is sustainability. National planners in various countries have perfected the art of developing policies on how various resources can be used sustainably in order to ensure that they can still be used in future.
However, they have failed to come up with measures that would ensure that land is protected from any possible destruction that may make it unproductive in future (Gaffikin & Morrissey 2011, p. 70). Strategic changes being experienced in the modern society are presenting new practical dilemmas that hinder successful achievement of spatial land use planning outcomes.
This research will focus on the current policies of land use in Australia and the prevailing conflict between public input, community interests, and effective outcomes.
Australia is one of the leading economies in the world. It has one of the largest per capita income in this region, with its Human Development Index considered the second best in the world. The government of Australia has been keen to develop land policies that would protect the interest all the stakeholders.
There has been need to reconcile the conflict between public input and community interests through proper strategic spatial land use planning. It is important that the interest of the investors, public, and the national government in land use be protected in order to ensure that the three sectors work in harmony to promote development of the country’s economy (Chapin 2007, p. 40).
The government has made an effort to ensure that there is a clear plan on how land in this country should be used, and how different stakeholders should relate on issues concerning land.
The economy of Australia has been expanding very rapidly over the past years. Urban centers are developing at a very high rate. This is caused by the preference of people to stay in urban centers than in the rural settings. The City of Melbourne has experienced a massive increase in population over the past two decades.
The Victorian State Government has been concerned of the best way land can be used to benefit all the stakeholders within the city (Jha & Singh 2008, p. 67). The Australian Collaborative Land Use Mapping Program was developed by the national government to help in land planning, especially in cities that are experiencing huge growth over the past few years.
The East-West Link Project is part of the vision by Melbourne City planners to help manage the limited land within the city. According to Scholl (2012, p. 67), spatial planning goes beyond land planning. It entails protection of the welfare of the members of the society by ensuring that they have access to land and all its resources that can make them lead decent lives.
According to Kawakami (2013, p. 45) the government of Australia has made efforts to ensure that land, especially in the major cities such as Melbourne, is not only used to give maximum output, but also remain sustainable for the future generation. The planned construction of the East West Link road is intended to link Western Ring Road and Eastern Freeway.
This government project is intending to decongest the city by creating an alternative route that can be used by motorists connecting between the two highways. However, such massive government contracts always come with conflicts on how stakeholders should be involved, and how such projects may affect other players (Albrechts 2006, p. 1150).
The outcome of this project is intended to help all the stakeholders within this city by reducing its population. However, this raised some conflict between public input and community interests. According to Barker (2006, p. 67), land as an asset is scarce and very fragile. Land cannot be replaced once destroyed. For this reason, the current generation has a responsibility to the future generation by ensuring that land is used sustainably.
However, the current strategic spatial land use planning approach taken by the government over this project has been criticized as not being sustainable. For instance, the local community has complained of the consequences associated with building this road. One of the main complains that have been raised by the local council politicians is the possible loss of large parts of the Royal Park.
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This park has been considered as one of the most important recreational facility within this community. This road will have to go through this park, and this will affect its sustainability. Some of these politicians have argued that the Victorian State Government should have considered construction of metro railway lines instead, because the possibility of this project destroying the park is very high.
The local community feels that the benefit of the new road is far much less as compared to the negative consequences it shall have on their livelihood (Potschin & Haines-Young 2011, p. 91). This means that all the stakeholders must be involved to ensure that this public input does not have adverse effect on the interest of the community.
This project has to continue because the need to implement it has been identified, and funds needed have already been set aside. However, the stakeholders must find a way of addressing the issues raised in order to ensure that the interest of the local community is protected. According to Scholl (2012, p. 80), it is important to involve the local community in any project that involves land use in order to eliminate any form of resistance.
Some of the members of this community will have to shelve part of their land to be used in this project. The Royal Park is also under threat when this road is constructed through it. This public input must take into consideration the interest of the local community.
The issues raised about the park must be considered because strategic spatial land use planning involves ensuring that there is sustainability in land use.
This means that the outcome of this project must be based on sustainability of land for the current and future generation. The Victorian State Government must ensure that when this project commences, all the issues raised by the local community about sustainability is adequately addressed.
List of References
Albrechts, L 2006, ‘Shifts in strategic spatial planning? Some evidence from Europe and Australia’ Environment and Planning A’, vol. 38. no. 1, pp. 1149 -1170.
Barker, K 2006, Barker review of land use planning: Final report – recommendations, TSO, London.
Chapin, T 2007, Growth management in Florida: Planning for paradise, Ashgate, Aldershot.
Gaffikin, F & Morrissey, M 2011, Planning in divided cities: Collaborative shaping of contested space, Wiley-Blackwell, West Sussex.
Jha, M & Singh, R 2008, Land use: Reflection on spatial informatics, agriculture and development, Concept Publishers, New Delhi.
Kawakami, M 2013, Spatial planning and sustainable development: Approaches for achieving sustainable urban form in Asian cities, Springer, Dordrecht.
Koomen, E & Beurden, J 2011, Land-use modelling in planning practice, Springer, Dordrecht.
Potschin, M & Haines-Young, R 2011, ‘Landscapes, sustainability and the place-based analysis of ecosystem services’, Landscape Ecol, vol. 1. no. 9, pp. 1-13.
Scholl, B 2012, HESP: Higher education in spatial planning : positions and reflections, VDF, Zürich.