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August 09 Edition Cover

10,000 new neighbours for Docklands

03 May 2011

10,000 new neighbours for Docklands Image

Docklanders are to get 10,000 new neighbours when the planned E-Gate development starts to take shape from 2014.

Construction of the new eco-suburb is due to start the moment that major tenants BlueScope Steel and OneSteel move out when their leases expire in November, 2014.

And Major Projects Victoria project director James Troedel says it could even start earlier if the site becomes available.

E-Gate comprises about 20 ha of land bounded by Dudley Street, Footscray Rd, Moonee Ponds Creek and the railway.

Unlike Docklands, the suburb’s community infrastructure will be delivered in advance and the vision is for medium-rise buildings, very few roads and plenty of open space.

With some 45 per cent of the land area currently being earmarked as public realm and a variety of housing styles on offer, the emphasis is residential but could also include more than 100,000 sqm of commercial development focussed mainly at the city end of the site.

Mr Troedel said:  “We are trying to create a wide demographic in the area so we want to create housing that would suit a wide range of people, such as families.”

“We are working on the premise that, for a good sustainable community, the more of a mixture the better.”

Mr Troedel pointed out that no decisions had yet been taken by Government but that a business case based on a sustainable “eco-village” had shown the concept was viable.

The concept is for a self-contained community, centred around a central civic square with pedestrian and cycle connections with both West Melbourne and Docklands.

The new suburb would be well served by public transport with a pedestrian bridge to North Melbourne Station and a new tram service extending beyond Docklands up Footscray Rd and terminating at the
central square.

Another pedestrian bridge is proposed to cross Dudley Street and extend walking and cycling access into Docklands via Digital Harbour.

Digital Harbour developer David Napier is ecstatic about the potential benefit of the new suburb to Docklands.

“The introduction of E-Gate shifts the centre of gravity in a northerly direction,” he said.  “I believe the geographic centre of Docklands will move to the middle of Etihad Stadium.”

Mr Napier said a critical mass of local residents would at last activate the retail aspects of NewQuay.  And he said the provision of community facilities including, potential primary and secondary schools would start to change the Docklands demographic too.

ING Real Estate CEO Greg Boyd agrees and sees the adjacent Waterfront City precinct of Docklands as already providing critical retail and general service amenity that now, with the greater certainty on the future of E-Gate, can be readily reviewed and enhanced to further stimulate local residential demand.

Mr Boyd believes that the proposed E-Gate density could be increased and he urged the new government to approach the development from a regional perspective.  He said ING would welcome an opportunity to speak directly to the authorities about the project.

Mr Boyd encouraged the Government to consider 2014 as “tomorrow” and said it needed to urgently tackle the preliminary works required to ensure it was in a position to hit the ground running the moment the site became available.

The concept plan allows for schools, although Mr Troedel said this was ultimately to be decided by the education department.  The department is currently looking at the entire region for school sites.

Mr Troedel said housing in E-Gate would utilise 3.8 metre ceilings.  He said this would allow the structures to be re-purposed in the future for commercial use if that was desired.

“We want the buildings to last 100 years and there’s no way we can predict what the future uses will be,” he said.

“We also looked at the concept of being highly sustainable.  The model has been worked up using the principles of sustainable energy and sustainable water use,” he said.

One idea is to install a salt barrier in Moonee Ponds Creek and harvesting fresh creek water for use in the development and to also create some freshwater wetlands.

Major Projects would also like to develop the other side of Moonee Ponds Creek and is keen to play a role in the City of Melbourne’s vision for a continuous park along the creek.

It is not yet clear whether the development will become the responsibility of a soon-to-be-announced urban renewal authority.

“An urban renewal authority is obviously being mooted and the exact nature of that, we don’t know,” Mr Troedel said.  “They might be our stakeholder.  We might work for them or they might take it over.  I don’t know.”

In the meantime, Major Projects is pressing on with re-housing the current tenants, refining the plan and tackling the associated planning issues such as rezoning, conditions and subdivision matters.

“Although you can’t see it happening, there is a lot of work being done,” Mr Troedel said.  “It hasn’t been formally adopted by Government but the Planning Minister has indicated that he’s keen to get on with it.”

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