A year on from the Docklands Summit …
A whole year has already gone by since last September’s all-important “reset” for Docklands, so how are things progressing since?
Led by the City of Melbourne, key stakeholders from across the precinct were brought together for the Docklands Summit at Marvel Stadium to assess a way forward for a suburb which had been the hardest hit economically from COVID-19 in Australia.
The council still shares responsibility for governing the precinct with Development Victoria (DV), which is expected to remain involved in Docklands for the next decade while remaining development plans with the area’s developers are finalised.
Following the summit, the council released a series of short-, medium-, and longer-term projects in November last year, many of which recognised the need to advocate to and/or partner with DV on areas that remain outside of the council’s control.
But among projects that one might describe as the “low-hanging fruit” were undertaking “immediate beautification and wayfinding improvements” around the precinct, including public benches, public artwork, and additional greening.
This year the council placed some planter boxes around Harbour Esplanade and NewQuay, and more are expected to be installed during the course of 2023.
But outside of these efforts, the council was unable to confirm to Docklands News whether any further beautification measures were in the pipeline, other than to say it is still working on a “public realm improvement plan”.
While the council’s Sophie Handley said in May that it was looking to reinstall the Light Buoys artwork along Yarra’s Edge, no plans for additional artwork or greening have yet been actioned or announced.
Other projects included partnering with DV to “deliver physical improvements and a program of small-scaled activations to Yanonung Quay”.
In July, the council managed to secure the “Albert Road Reserve pocket park” from the state government’s Metro Tunnel Creative Program – a decked seating area – which was relocated to Yanonung Quay.
A new stakeholder group for Docklands has also officially been established by the council as a further response to actions arising from the summit, which met for the first time in July as reported in the August edition of Docklands News.
The council has also previously committed to partnering with the state government to create a strategic plan for Docklands reviewing “sub-precinct character and identity”, as well as a “Docklands governance review group”. The council has yet to provide any further updates on these plans.
It also continues to work with DV to review the operational capacity of existing community facilities, including The Hub at Docklands.
Docklands News understands the council is also working on a new marketing campaign to promote the precinct which is expected to be rolled out in the new year.
This campaign stems from a key objective from the summit of ensuring “communications celebrate Docklands and promote events that align with Docklands as a family friendly precinct”.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp said she believed the future for Docklands was “bright”.
“Docklands is a unique urban waterfront precinct in the heart of our great city, brimming with opportunities for activation and growth,” Cr Capp said.
“In the next decade, Docklands is set to be home to more than 22,000 people, attract 20 million visitors each year, and welcome 50,000 city workers.”
“We’re continuing to invest in Docklands – from greening the promenade to create attractive new spaces to bring people together to major events like Now or Never, Firelight Festival and New Year’s Eve drawing millions of visitors to support local traders.”
Cr Capp added that working with the state government to support a redeveloped Central Pier remained a key focus in the revitalisation of Docklands.
“A redeveloped Central Pier will become a focal point for Melbourne – a hub for hospitality, entertainment, and retail with the potential to create 3800 jobs and generate more than $770 million for the local economy,” she said.
“We’ll continue to work with the State Government and a range of other stakeholders to support this significant precinct-shaping project as it comes to life.”
DV’s acting group head of precincts Anna Hakman said it remained committed to the ongoing growth and activation of Docklands.
“We will continue to work with the community and key stakeholders, including the City of Melbourne, to promote this vibrant and diverse precinct and progress the next steps in Docklands’ journey.”
A Docklands Representative Group spokesperson said although there were certain areas of works that had been initiated, “clarity or visibility on the timelines on the priority of work in progress or planned” still needed to be formalised.”
“The City of Melbourne has progressed in few commitments such as ‘beautification’ by relocating some planter boxes and the installation of a temporary pocket park at Yanonung Quay. However, there are certain areas that still need traction such as better waste management, community-focussed venues and facilities, reactivation of current and unused spaces and safety.” •