Peri-urban Region Research Group

The Peri-urban Region Research Group consists of a team of RMIT researchers and scholars involved in research projects focusing on the peri-urban region of Melbourne.

It examines characteristics of peri-urban regions and impacts of settlement patterns and other drivers of change on land use, vegetation, agriculture and water. The goal of this research is to assist planners and policy makers to make strategic, informed decisions about the future of these valuable regions.

About Peri-urban Region Research Group

The Peri-urban Region Research Group conducts research projects aiming to assist planners and policy makers to make strategic, informed decisions about the future of valuable peri-urban regions.

The Peri-urban Region Research Group is located in the Sustainability and Urban Planning area of the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies and is a part of the Centre for Urban Research.

It is headed by Professor Michael Buxton. Professor Buxton has over 30 years’ experience with policy development and research of peri-urban regions. Between 1978 – 1984, he was an elected councillor and Mayor of the former Shire of Sherbrooke in the acclaimed Dandenong Ranges near Melbourne. In addition, he was a member of the Upper Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges Regional Planning Authority which planned the future of this important region. He is a former senior executive of the Victorian government planning and environment agencies with responsibility for environmental policy. Joining RMIT in 1998, Professor Buxton has led a range of large peri-urban research projects. He also chaired the Premier’s Green Wedge working party which developed proposals for the introduction of a legislated urban growth boundary and a green belt in connection with Melbourne’s 2002 metropolitan strategy, Melbourne 2030.

Dr Melissa Neave, from the School's Sustainability and Urban Planning area, is leading a research project into regional settlement patterns. Dr Neave is an environmental geographer with experience in natural resource management and a particular interest in water resources. Her research spans the social and physical sciences and seeks to find solutions to natural resource problems at scales ranging from the local to the international. She is currently working on a major project, with Dr Bill Pritchard at the University of Sydney, funded by the Australian Government’s Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation. This project aims to investigate the drivers and implications of land ownership change in rural Australia through an examination of land parcels data over the 2002 – 2008 period.

A number of other Sustainability and Urban Planning staff have also worked on peri-urban research projects.

Peri-urban research projects

Peri-urban areas form belts of non-urban land fringing metropolitan centres, usually containing important natural resources, remnant biodiversity and significant landscapes. These areas are under increasing worldwide threat from development and overuse.

The group's research projects focus on Melbourne’s peri-urban regions, examining its characteristics and the impacts of settlement patterns and other drivers of change on land use, vegetation, agriculture and water.

Research partners

The Sustainability and Urban Planning area has developed a number of key partnerships with other organisations.

These include Spatial Vision Pty Ltd which has assisted with spatial mapping and policy analysis, in particular, Stephen Farrell and Milos Pelikan, consultants Danny O’Neill of Chandris Pty Ltd and Andrew Butt, and Associate Professor Trevor Budge of La Trobe University (Bendigo).

Strong partnerships have been developed with funding organisations, in particular the former Land and Water Australia, Sustainability Victoria and the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment.

Completed projects

The Peri-urban Region Research Group undertakes long term research into peri-urban areas in Australia together with a number of project partners.

This research aims to redress the relative lack of data and policy for Australia’s peri-urban regions. Although the research conducted by the group is concerned with Melbourne, the findings and approach are relevant to other peri-urban areas nationally and internationally.

These major research projects showcase RMIT's peri-urban research focus.

Scenario planning for Melbourne’s peri-urban region

Completed in 2011, this report was funded by Sustainability Victoria in partnership with eight peri-urban councils. The report used scenario methodology to project the consequences of current trends on settlement patterns and land use in the region to 2040. It also backcast from a desired future to identify what changes may be needed to reach a preferred future.

Download the report (PDF 31.6 MB)

Key partners: Bass Coast Shire, Baw Baw Shire, Golden Plains Shire, Macedon Ranges Shire, Mitchell Shire, Moorabool Shire, Murrindindi Shire, Surf Coast Shire, Department of Planning and Community Development, Department of Sustainability and Environment, Sustainability Victoria, La Trobe University, Municipal Association of Victoria, Spatial Vision, Pty. Ltd, Danny O’Neill and Andrew Butt.

Peri-urban planning and bushfire risk management (2009)

This RMIT report to the Bushfires Royal Commission Building undertook analysis in the wake of the February 2009 bushfires. It has formed the basis of further research and a submission to the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.

This work combines spatial land use and development trends as well as climate data and planning policy regime analysis in Murrindindi for both fire-affected and other areas.

Climate change and peri-urban planning (2009)

This report was supervised by the Peri-urban Region Research group and carried out by AECOM Pty Ltd. The report examined risks and impacts from climate change in Melbourne’s peri-urban region.

Download the report (PDF 117 p 29.4 MB)

Planning sustainable futures for Melbourne’s peri-urban region (2008)

This project involved the collection of demographic, environmental, agricultural and natural resource data in seven municipalities of Surf Coast, Moorabool, Macedon Ranges, Mitchell, Golden Plains, Murrundindi and Bass Coast. It also described and analysed the local, regional and state government structures affecting this peri-urban region.

Change and continuity in peri-urban Australia (2006 - 2008)

This joint project between RMIT and Griffith University’s School of the Environment was funded by Land and Water Australia. This project produced four monographs on peri-urban areas across Australia including a major review of the international literature.

Maintaining Melbourne’s green wedges (2001)

This 2002 report examined the history of Melbourne’s green wedge policy and all development applications in the green wedges between 1996-2002. It demonstrated that policy in place for over 30 years was being overturned through a series of uncoordinated incremental decisions.

Contact the Peri-urban Region Research Group

For further information about current or completed projects, contact the Peri-urban Region Research Group:

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nations on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.

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