Malcolm Turnbull launches blueprint for citiesThe federal government will spend an initial $50 million to fast-track planning on major projects such as urban rail. Photo: Bradley Kanaris

Malcolm Turnbull launches blueprint for cities

Cities must be better planned to boost investment and jobs, make housing more affordable and cut congestion, says Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The federal government will spend an initial $50 million to fast-track planning on major projects such as urban rail.

A team of experts within the government, known as the infrastructure financing unit, would work with state and local government and the private sector to find new ways to fund road and public transport projects.

There will also be a series of “city deals” involving the three levels of government, communities and the private sector, which would spell out priority projects and reforms for every Australian city.

“Working together, focused on … liveability, amenity, strong growth, opportunity – these are all the things that we can achieve with good city planning,” Mr Turnbull told a forum in Melbourne on Friday.

Taking a veiled swipe at former prime minister Tony Abbott, who put funding of roads ahead of public transport, Mr Turnbull said he was charting a “very different course” to his predecessors.

He singled out the Gold Coast’s light rail and Western Australia’s proposed Forrestfield rail link to the Perth airport as the sorts of projects the federal government supports.

But Mr Turnbull flagged the government would be expecting much more private sector involvement.

“One of the most important things that the federal government can do is stop being an ATM,” he said.

“Every dollar we spend (must be) co-ordinated with the other levels of government to ensure that we get more open space, better amenity, greater livability, more opportunities to work closer to where you live and more affordable housing.”

One of the keys to finding extra money for projects will be “value capture”.

This could range from selling development rights above and next to train stations to levies on ratepayers.

Housing could be made more affordable by streamlining planning and development approvals and linking transport projects with urban renewal and new estates.

AAP

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