The urban form of Melbourne has developed over the last one hundred and fifty years along the major transport routes radiating outward from the central city. Since the 1960s those responsible for the planning of Melbourne have recognised the importance of maintaining access to rural land close to the city. A policy was adopted by the Victorian Government in 1968 of focussing new urban development along growth corridors and protecting and preserving the areas in between for non-urban uses. These areas have become known as green wedges. They are a distinctive feature of Melbourne when compared with other metropolitan areas in Australia and follow a form of development pursued by a limited number of overseas cities.
The green wedges are part of a long-standing strategic plan for Melbourne aimed at preventing ad hoc poorly resourced suburban sprawl. The green wedges were established to provide a number of unique benefits to the residents of Melbourne. They provide easier access to open non-urbanised land in between the growth corridors. They ensure the continuation of agriculture and horticultural industries close to the city, including some of the most productive market gardens in south-eastern Australia. They protect important landscape values and resources such as sand and stone for future extraction. The wedges provide space for important community infrastructure, recreation, public open space and for the preservation of remnant indigenous vegetation, sensitive environmental areas and wildlife corridors. Ultimately, and perhaps most importantly, they provide a break to a spreading metropolis, a definitive statement that a city should not spread in an uncontrolled manner, and that a city should be connected to its rural hinterland and its surrounding environment. Although these values varied across green wedges the policy was a generic one and was applied across the entire area of the green wedges as part of a strategic metropolitan policy.