Design committee meets in Docklands

David Schout

Community members have begun having their say in city-shaping design matters, after the City of Melbourne’s newly established Design Excellence Advisory Committee (DEAC) recently met in Docklands.

The committee, comprising industry experts, academics and members of the community, has been appointed to work through design challenges and opportunities facing Melbourne.

In one of its first in-person meetings, the group chaired by Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece had a walk-through tour in parts of Docklands and raised issues and opportunities in the area.

The meeting included an informed discussion with an expert from Shanghai about waterfront projects in the Chinese city and how they might relate locally.

A series of Docklands-focused recommendations are due in the coming weeks.

“Fantastic to hold the first meeting of the Design Excellence Advisory Committee (DEAC) in Docklands. Fair to say, a lot of ideas came up!” Cr Reece said on Twitter on May 10.

The DEAC features a range of “advisors” (such as Eureka Tower architect Karl Fender), “technical experts” (such as Infrastructure Australia CEO Romilly Madew) and, importantly, five members of the community.

One of those, Daniel Ong (pictured), said the Docklands meeting included important contributions about Harbour Esplanade and the area’s connection with the water, greening, wayfinding and ground-level retail vacancies.

Resident input in planning matters has been a topic of hot discussion in recent years.

At a May 17 Future Melbourne Committee meeting held in Docklands, a public question was submitted about the planning and approval stages of Docklands development and redevelopment projects.

The question, submitted by Jason Butcher, asked what measures the council was taking to ensure that Docklands’ resident voices are adequately canvassed and acted upon during the planning and approval stages of development and redevelopment projects.

The council’s director planning and building Julian Edwards, through Cr Reece, said, “we engage formally on over 50 projects each year with many more in the planning stages. Residents, businesses, workers, students, visitors are included as well as people of all ages and backgrounds. More recently, we’ve completed two months’ consultation on neighbourhood planning in Docklands with a high percentage of residents represented and we’re currently analysing the feedback and will have a second round of consultation on the priorities for Docklands later in the year.”

Mr Edwards noted that the majority of private development and redevelopment projects in Docklands were led by either developers directly or in conjunction with the Victorian Government through Development Victoria (DV).

“The City of Melbourne works closely with DV to ensure that opportunities are provided for genuine community engagement on projects throughout the developing and planning phases given that a majority of planning permit applications are exempt from formal notice and review [advertising]. The City of Melbourne seeks to ensure that significant Docklands-shaping applications are presented to, and decided by, the Future Melbourne Committee in a public forum.” •

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