The Property Council has called for the State Government to take decisive action to revive Melbourne including establishing a new $50 million CBD revitalisation fund, a return to the office for public servants and free public transport for three months.

The Property Council has released its plan, Reviving Melbourne, which identifies nine key areas to supercharge the city and fast track Victoria’s economic recovery after prolonged lockdowns caused by the pandemic.

Victorian Executive Director Danni Hunter said: “Melbourne’s CBD has resembled a ghost town for the best part of two years as lockdowns deprived our city of its most important asset – its people.

“As we emerge from lockdown and more restrictions are lifted as we approach summer, we have a great opportunity now to revive the CBD and restore Melbourne’s mantle as the world’s most liveable city.

“But it will take a set of strategic initiatives by the State Government, City of Melbourne and business working in partnership to bring the CBD back to life and create jobs and investment to supercharge Victoria’s economic recovery.”

Proposals contained in Reviving Melbourne include:

  • A $50 million fund for programs to revive Melbourne’s CBD in addition to the $200 million already allocated through the Melbourne City Revitalisation Fund and the Melbourne City Recovery Fund.
  • A minimum three day a week return to office for public servants when Victoria reaches 90% double dose vaccination
  • Free public transport for a period of three months once Victoria hits 90 per cent vaccination followed by the reintroduction of off-peak fares for travel across Melbourne and public transport included in the pre-purchase of tickets for major events
  • Boost population growth through increased skilled migration and a full return of international students in 2022
  • Reduce the overall tax burden on new housing and fast track planning approvals for new projects
  • Deliver a CBD Tenant Attraction Strategy to bring new businesses into Melbourne and boost jobs and investment
  • Expand and fast track planning permit approvals for key urban renewal precincts in and around the City of Melbourne

Ms Hunter said: “We know Melbourne’s central city economy supports 500,000 jobs and produces about seven per cent of Australia’s GDP and 25% of Victoria’s GSP at its peak so its revival is critical to Victoria’s economic recovery.

“Melbourne is currently at just four per cent of its pre-COVID office occupancy levels and has the highest office vacancy rate in 20 years, while City of Melbourne data shows foot traffic was down 80% during the pandemic with fears one in five stores in the CBD could soon be vacant.

“But as we emerge from lockdown, there are already signs of new life. Foot traffic has increased significantly over the Cup Day long weekend, the new Melbourne Money initiative will drive economic activity and there are some great other initiatives in the works with the City of Melbourne.

“The CBD needs our attention and our love, but most importantly it needs its people and a plan and it needs them now. With Reviving Melbourne, we have set out the steps needed to get our city back on track to again becoming a globally renowned destination to work, live and play.

“The Property Council looks forward to working in partnership the State Government and City of Melbourne to reactivate the city and once again make Melbourne the most liveable city in the world.”

Media contact: Eric Allilomou M: 0448 291 236 E: [email protected]