Wes Fleming calls for a NEW LEVEL OF URBAN LANDSCAPE

Melbourne really is a beautiful city. With approximately 480 hectares of parks and gardens, streets lined with mature trees that provide canopy and well-planned spaces for children to play, dogs to run, families and friends to gather and picnic, it’s the green spaces that make this city sing.

Melbourne’s early planners were proficient in developing a city in harmony – balanced between places to live, places to work and places to play and relax. And what a success it has been and how well those planners have served our iconic city.

But today, as Melbourne’s growth corridors develop, we need to remind our planners of the importance of not only reserving a place for open public space but ensuring it is developed with trees and greenery at the forefront. We need to balance that space against the rest of the urban area.

While many developers are working to ensure public open spaces are incorporated into new communities, I am shocked by the number of times I travel past a park with loads of play equipment and even a pergola and BBQ facilities – but hardly any trees.

I believe we need everyone along the development chain on board to keep raising the bar for quality urban design and bring quality planting with quality trees, back into the mix.

It’s easy to place plants down the list of priorities but our communities will feel the effects of sparsely or poorly planted landscapes in years to come.

It is well documented that areas with mature trees, highly planted open spaces and well-maintained reserves are low on crime, they are higher socio-economic areas, offer healthier, happier youth and so-on, so this needs to be reflected in new urban communities. Recent studies have also shown the benefits of exposure to Green life to the sick help fast track recovery times.

It’s not enough just to highlight an area and title it a public reserve but then neglect the responsibility to ensure it is planted properly with a vision for the future.

We are reaching a critical period in urban development where blocks are getting smaller as affordability climbs ever further out of reach of many working Australians.