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AFL proposal won’t affect Esplanade

30 Jun 2016

AFL proposal won’t affect Esplanade Image

By Bethany Williams

The AFL’s $300 million proposal to revamp Etihad Stadium is unlikely to impact on plans for Harbour Esplanade's redevelopment.

The plans were leaked to the Herald Sun last month, which reported the concept would include opening up the arena to Harbour Esplanade and a “sprawling waterfront entertainment zone”.

With Places Victoria’s master plan for Harbour Esplanade already approved it’s unlikely the AFL proposal would impact on existing plans for the Esplanade.

It’s understood the AFL proposal handed to the State Government is a high-level document, but that the concepts it discusses align with many of the ideas expressed in Places Victoria’s master plan.

Because the master plan is already approved, any third-party plans that could impact on the Esplanade would have to go through an approvals process and line up with the ambitions of the existing master plan.

It’s understood Places Victoria has seen the AFL’s proposal but general manager Simon Wilson didn’t give much away when asked how the proposal would intersect with his organisation’s master plan for the Esplanade.

“Places Victoria’s vision for Harbour Esplanade is that it becomes a modern waterfront destination with links to Melbourne’s industrial port heritage. We welcome interest from stakeholders who share our aspirations for the space,” Mr Wilson said.

The State Government was similarly tight-lipped when questioned about the AFL’s plan and how it would relate to the Esplanade.

“If we want to maintain Victoria’s reputation for having the best of everything, it’s worth considering how to make the most of our stadiums,” a government spokeswoman said.

“The government has spoken to the AFL about these bold and exciting plans and we will work with them to make the sporting capital of Australia even better.”

At this stage, there is no formal development application before the government with regard to the AFL’s plan.

AFL spokesperson Patrick Keane confirmed the organisation was in ongoing discussions with the government about the stadium, but declined to comment further or release the proposal to Docklands News.

Aside from opening up the arena to Harbour Esplanade and creating a waterfront entertainment zone, the Herald Sun also reported the AFL’s plan included:

  • A running track around the ground;
  • A giant rock climbing wall; and
  • Upgrades to the façade and stands.

Docklands Chamber of Commerce president Joh Maxwell welcomed news of waterfront activation in Docklands.

“We haven’t seen any detailed plans but from what I’ve heard it sounds very exiting,” Mrs Maxwell said.

“Anything that helps us activate the waterfront and open it up is something the local business community would support.”

“Of course we would need to see how it would interact with the existing Harbour Esplanade master plan, but, on the face of it, it sounds very exciting.”

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