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Concerns remain over Fishermans Bend

28 Apr 2015

Concerns remain over Fishermans Bend Image

While the Yarra’s Edge community can breathe a sigh of relief over the demise of the Fishermans Bend tram bridge, concerns remain over the potential heights of neighbouring buildings.

Planning Minister Richard Wynne last month announced a review of the Fishermans Bend plan and imposed interim height controls of 40-storeys in the Lorimer precinct, which neighbours Yarra’s Edge.

However, existing permit applications, including a proposal for a 74-storey tower at 85 Lorimer St, will be decided by the minister in accordance with pre-existing planning conditions for Fishermans Bend.

These planning conditions included recommended height limits as opposed to mandatory height limits.

Yarra’s Edge resident Phillip Spender was one of the key figures in the campaign against the tram bridge and said he was “greatly concerned” by the fact existing planning applications would be considered under the original planning conditions.

“We’re very disappointed that 85 Lorimer St and other developments in the pipeline will be considered under the old rules,” Mr Spender said. “We will fight this.”

If approved, the 74-storey residential building would soar above nearby buildings at Yarra’s Edge, which average 40 storeys.

However, Mr Spender said he was pleased the government was sticking by its promise to oppose the tram bridge.

“With respect to the tram bridge we’re encouraged that the government is standing by its election promise, however we would like to see this reflected in official documentation,” he said.

While no specific mention was made of the bridge when Mr Wynne announced the Fishermans Bend review, his spokesperson later confirmed the tram bridge concept was off the table.

While in opposition, the Labor government said it would not support the proposed tram bridge if elected.

The tram bridge has continued to appear in some Fishermans Bend imagery since the Labor government’s election in November last year but a spokesperson for Planning Minister Richard Wynne said its no bridge stance remained.

“The no bridge stance was promised in opposition and that stance will not change,” the spokesperson said.

“A detailed infrastructure plan will be developed by the Metropolitan Planning Authority with the councils. It will include transport planning, community services, open space, environmental guidelines, developer contributions – the very detail the previous government’s plans sorely lacked.”

According to Mr Spender, the Yarra’s Edge community welcomes “sensible development” of Fishermans Bend.

 “Clearly our annoyance came from plans that would have ruined our neighbourhood to achieve the tram bridge.”

“We became very disenchanted with the previous government’s processes and we continue our call for more transparency and community involvement in future plans,” he said.

“As a community we stand ready to participate and be a positive force for planning of a Fishermans Bend that we can all be proud of,” Mr Spender said.

The proposed tram bridge first appeared in the Access Docklands Plan in April 2013 and the Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Area draft vision in September 2013. It also remained a “long-term option” in the Fishermans Bend Strategic Plan released in July last year.

The bridge would have extended from Collins St across the river, through Point Park at Yarra’s Edge and continued on to Fishermans Bend, effectively cutting off the Yarra’s Edge marina and impacting on the only park in the precinct.

Unsurprisingly, the proposal was met with major opposition from the Yarra’s Edge community and Marina YE tenants, with the major concerns being the restrictions on boat access, loss of vessels from the marina, loss of green space, and the noise and visual impact of a frequent tram service running through the area.

In addition to ruling out the tram bridge, the State Government’s review of Fishermans Bend will also see the urban renewal area almost double in size.

A new business precinct has been added, increasing the size of Fishermans Bend from 250 hectares to 455 hectares and from four precincts to five.

“By getting on with our promise for five distinct neighbourhoods in Fishermans Bend, we’re developing a blue-print for overhauling industrial land and creating places close to the city where people actually want to work and live,” Planning Minister Richard Wynne said.

The Minister for Planning will be the authority for developments bigger than 25,000 sqm and interim mandatory height controls have replaced discretionary and preferred limits while strategic planning work is completed.
The interim height limits are 40 storeys in the Montague and Lorimer precincts and 18 storeys in the Sandridge and Wirraway precincts.

The government is also putting into place a Ministerial Advisory Committee, which will include experts in statutory planning, urban economics, urban renewal, transport planning and environmental planning, a representative of the City of Port Phillip, a representative of the City of Melbourne and three community-based representatives.

Expressions of Interest for positions on the committee are expected to be advertised in the near future.

It’s anticipated that the Fishermans Bend review will take up to 18 months to complete.

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