Docklands reacts with mixed feelings after summit
Community groups and stakeholders have welcomed the Docklands Summit, saying they are “extremely keen” to continue their involvement in future decision making.
However, the Docklands Representative Group (DRG) has warned outcomes from the summit, which was held on September 2 at Marvel Stadium, were “only part of a future plan” after noting the event’s focus was “primarily upon increasing visitation to Docklands”.
“Given this, the DRG commends the FMC’s [Future Melbourne Committee held on September 20] decision to ensure ongoing engagement with the Docklands community as it is imperative that visitation priorities do not automatically supersede issues already identified by Docklands community as important, such as safety,” a DRG spokesperson said.
While the spokesperson said the DRG was pleased to have participated in the summit’s workshops and discussions, it also pointed to other matters that needed further consideration.
This included an “underappreciated economic importance of residential strata” that the DRG believed was represented in a poster distributed to participants at the summit detailing a snapshot of Docklands’ statistics and COVID-19 impacts.
“The DRG notes that the vacancy rates cited for the residential sector were out of date with no source stated,” the spokesperson said.
The DRG said while it was pleased the newly established Docklands Owners’ Corporation Network was included, the shared statistics “contained no information on the economic contribution of the strata sector in Docklands, which directly employs building managers, concierge and security staff, who daily work in Docklands”.
According to the spokesperson, this sector brought trades to Docklands and an array of other on-site service providers such as gardeners and window cleaners.
“Yet, there is no recognition of this economic contribution. We strongly encourage a more holistic appreciation of the socio-economic composition of Docklands.”
On a final note, the DRG “found puzzling” the choice of the resident representative for the panel discussion, saying the resident, Jenny Leyva de Loryn of Yarra’s Edge, made a “key point that she believed Yarra’s Edge should separate from Docklands”.
“Given the panel had only one resident, it is disappointing that a person not wishing to be part of Docklands was chosen to speak on behalf of Docklands.”
The DRG’s comments come after Yarra’s Edge launched a petition in 2020 calling for the precinct to have its own identity and ease confusion between its fellow postcode 3008 neighbours north of the river.
Docklands Chamber of Commerce chief executive Shane Wylie said the chamber was “very thankful” to participate in the summit and hoped to see Docklands regarded as “a destination that organically attracts visitors, not just in episodic activations”.
“We know that the landscape has dramatically changed in Docklands. The corporate economy is unlikely to ever return in the way that it was and therefore we need fresh ideas,” he said.
Mr Wylie noted the event “clearly and strongly” showed action on Central Pier and a “holistic vision for integration with Harbour Esplanade as the number one outcome”.
He supported the AFL’s plan to activate Marvel Stadium which would see it opened to the community and linked to Harbour Esplanade and Central Pier “to become a world -class destination”.
However, Mr Wylie said the chamber’s “small concern” was that the average Docklands resident may not feature in the outcomes of the summit.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021 census, the average Docklands resident is of a multicultural background, 32 years old, a dual income household, renting and interested in starting a family or has one.
“We hope that their input was captured in the entire process even if it wasn’t evident at the actual summit,” he said.
Chair of the Melbourne Maritime Heritage Network (MMHN) Jackie Watts said it was pleasing speakers had referenced activation proposals long advocated by the MMHN.
But she questioned if the management of the Docklands precinct was beyond the responsibility of Development Victoria, saying, “should the Docklands precinct now sit alongside other precincts within the City of Melbourne? Would this shift of responsibility enable a more efficient acceleration of desperately needed precinct activation?” •