Fishermans Bend lures $2bn facelift

By Paul Hemsley

The Victorian government has unveiled a new “draft vision” for the City of Melbourne’s ambitious plan to revitalise the Fishermans Bend industrial district that the government hopes will attract $2 billion in new investment from the private sector.

A large curved peninsula of land in Port Melbourne that is separated from the central business district by the Yarra River, Fishermans Bend is at the moment an industrial centre which automakers Holden and Toyota as well as the Defence Science and Technology Organisation.

The Victorian government is heavily pushing for a major residential overhaul of the 250 hectare site through the Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Project, a reflection of Premier Denis Napthine’s ambition to construct a “new vibrant community” through a mix of residential, commercial, retail entertainment, industry, transport and community facilities.

The aim of the project is to allow Melbourne residents to live close to their existing jobs, services, public spaces and transport connections and the government predicts that Fishermans Bend could become home to more than 80,000 residents and a workplace for 40,000 in the next 40 years.

Mr Napthine expressed enthusiasm for the project, saying that “Sydney and Brisbane can only dream about planning a project of this scale” and that the state government is delivering on a major investment pipeline expected to equate to $2 billion over the next 10 years.

Although the Fishermans Bend urban renewal project is a very large undertaking by the Victorian government and the City of Melbourne, Mr Napthine’s friendly jab at Sydney and Brisbane doesn’t quite tally in terms of largesse.

The City of Sydney’s own ambitious urban renewal project to revitalise the Green Square precinct, which was an industrialised swampland, has been budgeted at $8 billion.

Big number price tags aside, the Victorian government is confident that the Fishermans Bend project will deliver significant economic benefits to the area over the next 10 years through the $2 billion of private sector investment that is expected to create 13,500 construction jobs.

Minister for Planning Matthew Guy said the Fishermans Bend project will set the standard for urban renewal across Melbourne and Australia over the next three decades, bringing thousands of new residents to areas close to jobs, transport and “Australia’s greatest cultural heart”.

“When looking at the plan it is clear that a number of precincts will develop to include low rise family friendly housing, medium scale development, and high density development around a future transport corridor and new employment hubs,” Mr Guy said.

He said the plan supports the delivery of a comprehensive open space network, new walking and cycling routes and mechanisms for the delivery of affordable housing.

“The Vision documentation and design guidelines will set new standards in urban renewal including requirements for open space provision, setbacks on towers above podiums, a network of laneways and density in locations that respects existing residents,” Mr Guy said.

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