Theories and Practice of Urban Transition: Melbourne's Wicked Transport Planning Environment

Lawrence Seyers - MPHIL Completion Seminar

Japanese Room, Level 4, MSD Building


Against a backdrop of balkanised transport and land use planning, a fragmented and disjointed transport planning environment has evolved in Victoria – culminating in the 2014 Victorian Election which saw East West Link juxtaposed against Melbourne Metro Tunnel/Project 10,000 in what the then Prime Minister declared a “Transport Referendum”. This pattern has continued with West Gate Tunnel and North East Link. This research focuses on Victorian transport planning governance to answer the question of how should transport planning decisions be made in a highly complex (wicked) environment?

This research provides an exploration of the Melbourne case study (up to and including East West Link) through an interpretation of political, social, economic and environmental motivators. It then provides a comparative analysis of transport planning governance in London through interviews with political leaders, professionals and academics. The analysis of the interviews, together with a document and literature review, is hypothesised to show that Melbourne’s decision-making process has failed to recognize and respond to transport as a wicked problem with many complex and competing outcomes. A comparison of transport governance in London suggests improvements to better manage this complexity and achieve better transport governance in Victoria.

This research is significant as Melbourne’s rapid population growth has outpaced the established political and administrative structures and our existing infrastructure. Since 2000, Melbourne has grown by over a million new residents – almost 30 percent. By 2030, Melbourne is likely to grow to become Australia’s largest city, and by 2051, 8 million residents are anticipated. The current transport planning decision-making framework was created for a different kind of city.


Lawrence Seyers is a MPhil candidate in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning. He graduated with a Bachelor of Urban Planning and Development (Hons.) from the University of Melbourne in 2005 and graduated with a Master of Business by Research from Victoria University in 2010. He has over 10 years’ experience in a wide variety of roles in the Victorian Public Service and local government and works part-time for the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (Transport for Victoria).

Presented by Lawrence Seyers
Graduate Researcher
Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning


Prof Mark Stevenson


A/Prof Janet Stanley

Advisory Committee:

  • Prof Mark Stevenson
  • Prof John Stanley