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August 09 Edition Cover

Docklanders take to the promenade over NewQuay

02 Nov 2011

Docklanders take to the promenade over NewQuay Image

Docklands experienced its first public protest meeting on October 6 with about 100 people gathering in the Waterfront City Piazza to protest MAB Corporation’s plans for NewQuay Central.

The meeting heard from three speakers and ended with a suggestion that participants write to the Minister for Planning, the Lord Mayor and Places Victoria (formerly VicUrban) with their concerns.

MAB has bought Waterfront City from ING Real Estate and has announced five new buildings for the under-performing precinct.  The two most unpopular aspects of the plan are a 15-storey hotel at the front of the piazza and a 42-storey residential tower.

Leading the charge is Docklands Community Association president and Arkley owners corporation chair Roger Gardner who spoke against the proposal at the protest meeting.  Nolan owners corporation chair Michele Anderson and local landscape architecture academic Dr Marieluise Jonas also addressed the meeting.

Mr Gardner is confident of influencing the outcome and has secured a meeting with Planning Minister Matthew Guy this month.

Buoying his confidence is the City of Melbourne’s response to the plan which it says “does not satisfy the ‘key goals’ of the NewQuay Central Urban Design Framework.”

In a referral response on September 28, a council planner criticises MAB’s proposal on many grounds including: heights, setbacks, street activation, wind mitigation, shadowing, traffic access, car parking, traffic generation, bicycle facilities and density.

The council warns of increased shadowing of the waterfront promenade as well as the proposed new park space and the recently opened Quay Park.  “Where this is combined with increased wind effects, it will significantly reduce the attractiveness of these public spaces,” the council said.

The council said the width of the proposed hotel “reduced views and physical connections from Docklands Drive through to the waterfront, contrary to a key criteria of the existing Waterfront Piazza, which is to retain and enhance these connections.”

MAB says it is disappointed with the council’s response and says it did not come from the council officers who were specifically involved in the planning workshops which produced the proposal.

NewQuay project director David Allt-Graham said MAB was sticking to its guns and believed that the proposal was still the best outcome for the area.

Places Victoria is still compiling a report of community reaction to MAB’s proposal.  When completed, it will be forwarded to the Department of Planning and Community Development. The department, in turn, will make a recommendation to the Minister.  All parties are hoping for a decision before Christmas.

Mr Gardner said the protest meeting was unanimous in its condemnation of the project – calling it vandalism.

“It would destroy the only purpose-built outdoor theatre, recreational and leisure plaza in Docklands, which already suffers from a severe lack of open space.  We are calling on the Planning Minister Matthew Guy to veto the project,” Mr Gardner said.

“The developers MAB Corporation are cramming more high-rise buildings into the area without regard to proximity of buildings, wind tunnel effects, vehicle access, overshadowing and open space.

“There is a distinct lack of formal regulations and the government authority for Docklands development, VicUrban, appears to be rubber-stamping developer proposals.”

“MAB Corporation is claiming it will install a park behind the 15-storey hotel.  That is clearly misleading with inaccurate graphics.”

“It will actually be a shadowed strip of grass with the view of the harbour blocked by the hotel and with the narrow strip bordered by vehicle access lanes.”

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