Richard Wynne on Fishermans Bend: we have to get urban renewal projects right
Melbourne doesn’t remain the world’s most liveable city by standing still.
Just ask any overseas or interstate visitor returning to Victoria and they’ll tell you, Melbourne is ever moving and always growing. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
Cranes in the sky and shovels in the ground on every street corner indicate that Melbourne is forever a moving feast, but it’s only so often we have the opportunity to truly transform the shape of our city.
That’s why urban renewal projects are so exciting – and why we have to get them right.
At Fishermans Bend, a 480-hectare parcel of potential just five kilometres from the CBD, we have a chance to build a thriving neighbourhood complete with local schools, parks and places for the community to get together.
The Fishermans Bend urban renewal project is the largest of its kind in Australia. In fact, it’s bigger than every other urban renewal project in Victoria combined.
But while Fishermans Bend has an exciting future, it’s been plagued by a murky past.
The former industrial land became a political point of conjecture when a mere penstroke made it become some of Melbourne’s hottest, wealthiest property.
Overnight, land spiralled in value as lucky owners reaped the benefits of the extraordinary upzone to capital city.
Permits flew thick and fast as derelict factories or disused sites became lucrative land soon to be multi-million dollar skyscrapers.
It was great news for the lucky few, but a growing postcode was beginning to be deprived of a neighbourhood – and a community was about to be left behind.
Concrete jungles of skyscrapers surrounded by not much else don’t make great cities – they make an urban blight.
Our recast vision for Fishermans Bend is taking a different approach. It’s a vision for 80,000 residents and 80,000 jobs. It’s all about making Fishermans Bend a benchmark for environmental sustainability, connectivity and innovation.
We want Fishermans Bend to be a water sensitive community, a biodiverse community, a low carbon community and a low waste community.
Above all, we want Fishermans Bend to be as good a community as any to live, work and raise a family.
It starts with open space. We’ve already pressed ahead with plans for the Montague Community Park – and now we’re going further. The Framework earmarks the equivalent of two thirds the size of Docklands for open space, or 50 MCGs.
Four new AFL-sized ovals, six soccer pitches and eight outdoor courts will give local kids badly-needed space to blow off steam and embrace healthy and active lifestyles.
And plans are afoot for four primary schools – including the South Melbourne Primary School nearing completion – and a public secondary school is also on the list.
Proper planning is all about earmarking services today so that they’re ready for the communities of tomorrow. Fishermans Bend won’t thrive overnight, but we’re putting the chess pieces in place now so that as the community grows, we’re ready to grow with it.
Improved walking and cycling connections and improved bus services are immediate priorities that can’t wait.
In the longer term, future tram networks and a metro rail connection will ensure we’re perfectly positioned to add the major transport infrastructure by the time it’s required.
As is so often the case with poor planning, it begins with heights.
Unfettered approvals and a free-for-all approach to permits meant Fishermans Bend was in danger of becoming an architectural disaster.
It’s why we’ve established new planning controls that reign in heights, improve setbacks and better protect open space from overshadowing.
We want more than just the select few to enjoy everything a Fishermans Bend life offers, so we'll ensure a diverse mix of housing options that cater for individuals and families of all shapes and sizes.
A target of six per cent affordable housing is a cornerstone of the Framework.
When we came to Government we could see that Fishermans Bend wasn’t quite right, so we got the independent experts on the case to work out what had gone wrong.
Even we were stunned by the shortcomings.
The committee's investigation found that the decision to allow unfiltered high rise developments didn't include plans or funds to accommodate essential services that make communities tick - and labelled Fishermans Bend's failed renewal "unprecedented in the developed world".
Well, we're fixing that mess. We're building a flagship community residents can be proud to call home.
It's a big job, but getting the planning right at Fishermans Bend will leave a long-lasting legacy - and that's exactly what we're going to do.
The Hon Richard Wynne is the member for Richmond and the Minister for Planning.
Read more: Fishermans Bend draft framework released.