Fishermans Bend rezoning remains contentious as Montague precinct to be flooded with apartments

Stephen TaylorJune 25, 20130 min read

An RMIT planning professor has slammed as "world’s worst practice" the state government’s rezoning of land at Fishermans Bend without due consideration to planning controls.

Professor Michael Buxton said it was "scandalous what (they) did in rezoning such a large area of land as capital city zone without any rules being in place, and enriching canny speculators who saw this coming.

"You could not get a worse example of how not to develop than Fishermans Bend."

His comments to Fairfax Media refer to state planning minister Matthew Guy’s rezoning of 240 hectares for residential development a year ago.

Since then, 21 skyscrapers have been proposed for Montague precinct alone, the area closest to the CBD.

There are reports land speculators are making tens of millions of dollars by keeping an eye on the state government’s vision for high rise villages at Fishermans Bend, despite no official plan for the area having been released.

Opposition planning spokesman Brian Tee said a strategic plan for the area was "well overdue". "With the stroke of a pen, the (planning) minister has an enormous amount of power to add tens of millions to the value of a property.

"He’s ticking and flicking these tall tower proposals and making speculators incredibly wealthy, but really destroying any opportunity to have a soulful community on this site.

"This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get this iconic site right and it needs a plan to ensure it does not become Docklands mark two."

Redevelopment of Fishermans Bend will flood the area with apartments, with 680 in three residential towers at 123 Montague Street, South Melbourne, and 1023 in four skyscrapers at 6-78 Buckhurst Street.

There are suggestions developers had "land banked" the sites years ago tipping the state government would rezone them as high-rise residential when in power. This is proving correct.

The 123 Montague site of 0.57 hectares - for sale by expressions of interest - is bordered by Thistlethwaite, Montague, Buckhurst and Ferrars streets.

The CBRE Richard Ellis sale board describes it as offering an "unparalleled location, significant long-term income and development potential".

A spokeswoman for Mr Guy said he would not comment.

Stephen Taylor

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