Fishermans Bend developers cut down to size

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By Daniel Wilson

Australia’s largest urban renewal project, expected to house 80,000 residents and provide jobs for up to 60,000 people by 2050, has had new interim planning controls imposed on it by the Andrews Government.

These interim controls mean developers wanting permits taller than 12 storeys will be encouraged to include six per cent social housing in their projects, and to make at least 30 per cent of all the apartments three-bedroom. In certain parts of Fishermans Bend (Lorimer and Montague), buildings taller than 12 storeys will be expected to include at least 15 per cent of floor space for commercial and community use.

Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Area. Supplied by City of Port Phillip

Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Area. Supplied by City of Port Phillip

Located southwest of the CBD, Fishermans Bend comprises the 2.5 square kilometres of industrial land that was re-zoned in 2012 by then Planning Minister Matthew Guy with almost no limited height or design controls, which saw property prices skyrocket. Later it was expanded to about 5 square kilometres.

Guy was criticised widely for the lack of planning. Former Port Phillip Mayor Dick Gross called it a “fiasco”. Gross told St Kilda News earlier this year, “The losses for the Victorian taxpayer are estimated by an Advisory Committee at $340 million for parks alone. Roads, school, health centres and other social infrastructure will cost hundreds of millions more.”

Falling short of accusing the Liberal members and donors of any inside knowledge or wrongdoing, Gross did suggest the undue haste “gave the Minister’s developer mates a windfall profit”.

It would appear the Andrews Labor Government has put the brakes on that. The current Minister for Planning Richard Wynne said, “Landowners wanting to sell off applications for maximum profit with no regard to the long-term will have to work a bit harder.”

“We need our new neighbourhoods to have a good mix of small and large apartments with social housing and commercial space,” Wynne explained, “Developers who want to build projects in properly planned precincts, who want to build neighbourhoods with some longevity, have got the opportunity to be part of the biggest urban renewal opportunity in the country.”

Recently re-elected Port Phillip Mayor Bernadene Voss said: “While we are pleased the Victorian Government has acted to address the need for more affordable and diverse housing in Fishermans Bend, we urge the Government to go further by making the controls stronger and mandatory.”

“Boldness is needed to create a world class, liveable and sustainable city of the future so these interim controls don’t go far enough,” Cr Voss said.

Newly elected Councillor Ogy Simic said, “In Fishermans Bend we can and must prioritise new standards for environmentally sustainable design and support adequate housing, job opportunities and innovation.”

Cr Simic represents Gateway Ward, which includes approximately 40 per cent of Fishermans Bend. He told St Kilda News, “The new Council has a responsibility to oversee good planning decisions and I will work constructively with my colleagues to promote viable public transport links, services and open space.”

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