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We are such creatures of habit

More tram bridge fears

30 Mar 2017

By Shane Scanlan

Yarra’s Edge opponents of the Yarra River tram bridge would have been disappointed to hear Lendlease tell Melbourne city councillors on March 21 the proposal was still figuring in local planning considerations.

On behalf of Lendlease, town planning consultant Michael Barlow dropped a bombshell when addressing councillors’ concerns over a link between two ANZ buildings flanking Collins Landing park.

Mr Barlow explained that a proposed sky-bridge link between the current ANZ Centre and an adjacent proposed new campus at 839-865 Collins St had plenty of clearance to cater for a tram bridge to Fishermans Bend.

At the time, Mr Barlow was playing down the significance of Collins Landing as a piece of public open space.

“It should be said that this is not a critical piece of open space within Docklands,” he said. “Indeed, it is possible that this land may be set aside for a future tram link across to the south-side of the Yarra.”

The State Government went to the last election opposing the tram bridge link and has consistently ruled it out. But, with only 19 months remaining in its term of office, there has been speculation about a change of policy in the lead up to the next election.

The City of Port Phillip and other interested parties have kept consistent pressure on the government to change its policy position and commit to the transport link which would open up new connections with the emerging urban development area.

The City of Melbourne’s policy position on the tram bridge remains ambiguous.

Some councillors last year openly talked about the desirability of the tram link.

In 2013, the council made a submission to the Fishermans Bend draft vision supporting a tram link across the river – describing it as a “critical connection” with the CBD.

At the same time, the council said further investigation was required into design options for the tram extension that would cater for the maritime role of the waterways.

Residents of Yarra’s Edge led the charge against the bridge in the lead up to the November, 2014 election – resulting in a commitment from the ALP not to build the bridge. This outcome was championed by local MP Martin Foley.

In their report to councillors recommending that the city reject Lendlease’s sky-bridge, council officers said the park was already compromised by shadowing from both the ANZ Centre and the new Y3 building.

“Collins Landing is already significantly overshadowed by the existing ANZ building and the approved Y3 building. The sky bridge will result in additional shadowing of Collins Landing, including the promenade adjacent to the Yarra River’s north bank edge during lunchtime (11am – 1pm on 22 September), when nearby workers will being using the space,” the report said. “Any additional overshadowing of the Collins Landing is not supported as the area is already compromised.”

At the March 21 meeting, councillors unanimously opposed the sky-bridge, but with Lord Mayor Robert Doyle saying his opposition was “reluctant”. Cr Doyle said he expected Planning Minister Richard Wynne would approve the bridge anyway, despite the council’s opposition.

Mr Barlow said Leadlease had only secured ANZ as the major tenant for Y3 on the basis that the two campuses were connected by sky-bridge.

Without actually saying that ANZ would renege on the deal if planning permission for the sky-bridge was denied, Mr Barlow told councillors the banking giant only agreed to the tenancy if it was provided.

“ANZ came along and said ‘we till take it, but we want this bridge link’. And we said, ‘yes, we will now undertake this application’,” Mr Barlow said.

Mr Barlow said the deal with ANZ was only secured in the middle of last year. He said the building could not be leased in 2012, 2013, 2014 or 2015.

“When the deal was done with ANZ, ANZ said ‘part of our requirement is, in fact, that we have this bridge link to create the campus’," he told councillors.

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