Boating hub tender precedes release of activation strategy

Boating hub tender precedes release of activation strategy

By Sean Car

Development Victoria’s (DV’s) decision to put a tender out for a new ferry and boating hub on Harbour Esplanade South before the release of its long-awaited Docklands Activation Strategy should leave many scratching their heads.

In January, DV issued a media release announcing a new hub for ferry and boat operators to support charter fleet and ferry services in Victoria Harbour at Wharf 8, which is currently home to the Port Phillip Ferries glasshouse and Cow Up A Tree sculpture.

While plans to move the Cow Up A Tree to Harbour Esplanade North near NewQuay are already part of a longer-term approach for the precinct, the glasshouse space will be removed to make way for upgraded facilities.

In its media release, DV said that as part of Docklands continued development, both it and the City of Melbourne were encouraging interested parties to provide a creative solution for a new hub, which would “deliver much-needed operations, public amenities and shelter in one of Docklands’ best-connected areas.”

“It is a key pick up and drop off point for ferry and boat operators, has direct access to Marvel Stadium and has previously hosted Melbourne’s New Year’s Eve celebrations in Docklands,” Geoff Ward, Group Head Precincts at Development Victoria, said.

“We are really interested to see what great ideas come forward. By improving facilities and creating an exciting offering, more people will be drawn to enjoy what the area has to offer.”

But the decision to put a central area of Harbour Esplanade out to private tender, before the release of the draft Docklands Activation Strategy has left many wondering whether the strategy itself will be another piecemeal exercise.

The activation strategy, which is now months overdue for public consultation, has been held up by senior management at Development Victoria and the City of Melbourne and the longer it is delayed the greater local apathy is likely to be.

The events company charged with compiling the document, Alto Cibum, completed its final draft in December and according to its managing director Robert Clifford, who spoke with Docklands News last year, the strategy was due to be released in December.

While the strategy is understood to offer several recommendations for activations in Docklands, central to its findings is a push for the long overdue upgrade to Harbour Esplanade.

But with the Harbour Esplanade South and Wharf 8 now seemingly being placed into the hands of the private sector, it removes a significant component of any community-led vision for Harbour Esplanade.

The expression of interest campaign for the project ends on February 5 •

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