Demolition of Central Pier moves ahead
By Brendan Rees and Sean Car
A plan to demolish and revitalise Central Pier has progressed with a heritage permit application to be considered by Heritage Victoria, the state government has announced.
The news was warmly welcomed by the City of Melbourne with Lord Mayor Sally Capp saying the council would now support and lobby for its redevelopment, “because we know Docklands has enormous potential to be a major point of activation within our city”.
Central Pier – which will be at the centre of discussions at the Docklands Summit on September 2 – was permanently closed by Development Victoria (DV) in early 2020 due to safety issues and has since been left to deteriorate, presenting what the state government described as an “ongoing safety risk”.
With the pier’s western tip now removed, the government has since announced that DV would lodge a heritage permit application to remove the remaining “unsafe pier structure” to “ensure its safety and reliability for years to come”.
The permit application to demolish the pier will be considered under the requirements of the Victorian Heritage Act 2017 due to its registration as a place of historical significance to Docklands, and the City of Melbourne.
In acknowledging that removal of the pier was a key step in revitalising the waterfront along Harbour Esplanade, Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said the government would continue working closely with the community to ensure Central Pier’s future and recognise the history of the area.
Ms Allan added safety was their primary concern “which is why we are taking the next steps in delivering a safer and more accessible waterfront area for all to enjoy”.
DV’s group head of precincts Geoff Ward said specialist engineers continued to monitor the pier’s condition and had advised the safest way to ensure a future for the pier was to remove it from the water.
The Docklands Chamber of Commerce chief executive Shane Wylie said he was thrilled there was “finally movement” on Central Pier, adding “we sincerely hope that the process is now escalated, and that the next iteration of Victoria Harbour is forward thinking”.
Jackie Watts, chair of the Melbourne Maritime Heritage Network (MMHN), said while the pier was a “heritage asset” to the community, her organisation was heartened by the fact that DV had “proactively contacted” the MMHN prior to the demolition application to Heritage Victoria.
But she said the MMHN would advocate that Heritage Victoria attach “strict conditions” if granting a demolition permit, including that the heritage values of the site and the pier are preserved.
“This outcome will best be achieved by replacing the pier with a floating concrete pier of the same dimensions as Central Pier in its entirety.”
The Docklands Representative Group said Central Pier was the “anchor point” for the precinct and would be keen to be part of discussions going forward.
The state government will work closely with Heritage Victoria, the City of Melbourne, the local community, and other key stakeholders to identify opportunities for revitalising the pier and adjacent waterfront. •