What are Green Wedges?
The non urban areas of metropolitan Melbourne that lie outside the Urban Growth Boundary are known as Green Wedges. There are 12 designated Green Wedge areas, spanning 17 municipalities, which collectively form a ring around the city.
Land in each green wedge area is unique in terms of its use and appearance ranging from the coastal landscape of Mornington Peninsula to the open basalt plains of the west and to the highly scenic landscapes in the Yarra Valley.
These areas contain a mix of agriculture and low-density activities, including major infrastructure that supports urban areas, such as Melbourne and Moorabbin airports and the western and eastern water treatment facilities. They include major quarries used in the building industry, cultural heritage sites, biodiversity conservation areas and water catchments that provide clean drinking water for a growing population. All of these land uses are vital to the functioning of metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria.
About one third of the total green wedge area is public land, including national parks, other parks, reserves, and closed protected water catchments. As such, they contribute significantly to the open space network, providing opportunities for tourism and recreation
Green Wedge Management Plans
In recognition of the substantial variation in the land and conditions of each green wedge, the requirement for councils to prepare Green Wedge Management Plans was introduced. The purpose of a Green Wedge Management Plan is to identify a vision, objectives and actions for the sustainable use and development of each green wedge.
The Green Wedge Management Plan identifies the values and features of each green wedge, the preferred future land use, environmental and natural resources that should be protected, based on the needs of the local community. The Plans also articulate the type, scale and form of change in the green wedge and how those changes will be managed and facilitated.
Follow the links below for more information about the development of Green Wedge Management Plans for each green wedge:
- Werribee South
- Western Plains South
- Western Plains North
- Yarra Valley and Yarra and Dandenong Ranges
- Southern Ranges
- South East
- Mornington Peninsula
The Victorian Government has been supporting councils with the preparation of Green Wedge Management Plans through the provision of targeted funding and technical advice and guidance.
A Planning Practice Note has been prepared to guide the development of Green Wedge Management Plans:
- PPN31 - Preparing a Green Wedge Management Plan (PDF 243.8 KB)
- PPN31 - Preparing a Green Wedge Management Plan (DOC 188.5 KB)
History of Green Wedges
The green wedges concept has been part of Melbourne's planning history for over 40 years. Melbourne's early planning policies sought to permanently protect the valuable natural attributes of non-urban areas by channelling urban growth into clearly defined corridors centred on transport networks.
During the 1970s, the Planning Policies for the Melbourne Metropolitan Region (1971) was published. These policies were the first to focus on the long-term conservation of resources within non-urban areas. The 1971 report identified the non-urban area of Melbourne and identified that the values of this land should be preserved, identifying that:
'Land use, resources, terrain, vegetation and habitat vary extensively throughout the non-urban areas. It is intended that the basic attributes and resources contained within the areas shall be preserved to a maximum degree, and that environment management policies shall be specifically oriented towards this objective.' Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, page 54 (1971).
During this time, the Melbourne planning authority, Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, introduced Statements of Planning Policy to formally safeguard the economic, social and environmental and landscape values of key non urban areas, including: the Dandenong Ranges, Mornington Peninsula, Western Port and the Yarra Valley. In 2011, the government committed to establish new localised statements of planning policy for four key special areas within Victoria, two of which are located in green wedge areas - Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley.
During the 1980s, the principle of protecting non-urban areas was reaffirmed through a range of metropolitan policies such as Shaping Melbourne's Future (1987). It was reinforced through the introduction of new metropolitan planning schemes in 1989, where the regional component of all metropolitan planning schemes was amended to incorporate a policy statement for non-urban areas.
While the metropolitan strategy, Living Suburbs (1995), gave less prominence to green wedges, it nonetheless included objectives to protect the non-urban values of these areas. The subsequent reform of the Victorian planning system in the mid 1990s that introduced a standardised framework based on the Victoria Planning Provisions included policies and a suite of provisions for guiding effective decisions in these non-urban areas.
It was not until 2002 that the term 'green wedges' was formally recognised in the metropolitan strategy, Melbourne 2030: Planning for Sustainable Growth. Together with the introduction of an 'urban growth boundary' to better manage outward expansion, green wedges were enshrined in legislation and the Victoria Planning Provisions.