A focus on Docklands

A focus on Docklands

By Meg Hill

Professional focus groups have been researching ways to help shape Docklands’ future.

One is trying to rework the suburb’s apartment living to cater to families, while the other will establish a new community event at Ron Barassi Senior Park – the Docklands Gift!

The focus groups – the Docklands Gift and Kids in Docklands – are part of a Committee for Melbourne leadership program called the Future Focus Groups. This committee’s past future focus groups have initiated projects that have become a permanent part of the city, including the City Circle tram.

Phillip Roth is a town planner at Development Victoria and has been part of the Kids in Docklands group researching ways to make apartment living in Docklands more family-friendly.

“The trend we see in Melbourne is that we often see younger people as the dominant household type for apartments in the inner city, and when they get to an age where they’re looking to start a family they often move out to the suburbs,” Mr Roth said.

“That’s an issue we wanted to address, to look at ways the inner city can become more attractive to those people when they have families and stay in the apartment market.”

Mr Roth said the project specifically focused on Docklands by reviewing the design of Lendlease developments in the suburb and identifying changes that the developer could implement on a future Docklands development.

“Specifically, some of the actions we’ve come up with are changing a study nook area with a small desk into a storage area for prams,” he said.

“Another aspect was the kitchen zone, to make it a safe zone through the use of an island bench which means parents can keep an eye on their kids.”

“Usually kitchens only have benches facing the wall, so it can make a big difference.”

They also identified that if developers could not fit bathtubs into apartment bathrooms, they could use extendable shower heads to fill up portable tubs with, and that if balconies had operable windows, they could be enclosed to create another room – effectively doubling the living space in some apartments.

Mr Roth’s focus group began researching almost two years ago. The onset of COVID-19 meant they also encountered unintended opportunities.

“COVID-19 has meant that the whole communal working or co-working concept is getting a lot more momentum and we find everyone we speak to is gravitating towards that at the moment,” he said.

“Working from home in your apartment is not a successful model, but the idea of having work in your building is.”

“Maybe instead of a new pool, developments would essentially put in an office workspace. I think over the next few years we will see developers starting to incorporate that aspect.”

Over the same period another of the Committee’s focus groups was researching how to connect Docklands as a community and promote it at the same time.

They came up with an event called the Docklands Gift in partnership with the Victorian Athletics League, the new Docklands Primary School and the Docklands Sports Club.

The inaugural Gift will be held at the Ron Barassi Senior Park on March 20, 2021. Colin McEvoy, the facility manager at Federation Square, has been part of the project.

“The Victorian Athletics League holds a number of events that kick off in November and culminate in the Stawell Gift in Stawell in country Victoria – it’s Australia’s largest running race,” he said.

“We want Docklands to have a Docklands Gift that is very similar to the Stawell Gift.”

Mr McEvoy said the event would be a pro-running event, which is a handicap race open to everyone.

The day would feature a number of races of different lengths, including races for children from the primary school, and would be managed by the Docklands Sports Club. The group has received permission from the City of Melbourne to hold the event.

“We wanted to do a community event, it’s very much for the community of Docklands,” Mr McEvoy said.

“But also secondary to that it’s about advertising and promoting what the Docklands has to offer to people who wouldn’t necessarily know about it. These races attract a lot of people from country Victoria and interstate.”

Both projects are in the later stages and are preparing to hand over to Lendlease and the Docklands Sports Club for implementation

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