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August 09 Edition Cover

Draft framework – A big change

05 Dec 2017

Draft framework – A big change Image

By Philip Spender

In contributing this article I have thought it best to narrow things down to what’s changed since last time in the 2013/14 period.

As background the key community concerns back then were:

  • Fishermans Bend (FB) renewal was insufficiently planned and a future ghetto would be created in our back yard;
  • Traffic congestion from Webb Dock expansion;
  • The proposed tram bridge through Yarra’s Edge.
  • When the State Government changed in late 2014 the undertakings I heard were:
  • They would recast FB and were clear it wasn’t a start all over again exercise, but an attempt to deal with its many shortcomings;
  • They would withdraw the transport plan and recast it. They indicated the original Point Park tram route wouldn’t happen and would try very hard to make a Charles Grimes Bridge route work; and
  • They committed to transparency, the formation of a Ministerial Advisory Committee including community representatives and wide-ranging consultation.

Subsequently, I was appointed one of the three community representatives and have been deeply involved ever since. I would observe it’s been far more beneficial being part of the process than agitating from the outside but, after all this work, both opportunities and issues remain. 

What’s changed?

Melbourne’s rapid growth is now becoming a reality. FB’s 480 ha of land within five km of the CBD will become the largest urban renewal project in Australia and its context within Plan Melbourne 2017-2050 is better understood. Controls will be introduced to deliver planned development, not rampant overdevelopment.

The liveability, provision of schools, services and green space and the diversity of the built form appear to be greatly improved and more appealing to families and broader demographics.

The government has purchased the General Motors site, which will be the catalytic core of the project. Already businesses and institutions are in discussions to stay or locate in FB. The overwhelming feedback has been they must have public transport and they have been very specific about trams.

Since 2013/14, the port has been privatised, Webb Dock expanded, the freeway system widened and modified, and a Westgate Tunnel proposal is well advanced. Congestion and the large increase in traffic volume are now evident, so FB as a peninsula must have a transport plan that is delivered early, to prevent transport gridlock.

The transport plan includes heavy underground rail linking the west to the CBD and the east through FB (Metro 2), but the transport planners advise financing and the capacity to build it, given Metro 1 is in construction, means its in the 2025+ timeframe.

Earlier delivery of cycling, walking, buses and trams is therefore being planned to get to the most ambitious targets of 80 per cent cycling, walking and public transport and only 20 per cent of journeys by car. Water transport has been left to the private sector. In the medium term, Todd Rd, Lorimer St and Wurundjeri Way remain freight routes, but it is intended that freight be directed onto the freeways and an elevated rail link is reserved for the 2025+ timeframe.

Without these changes, the congestion will be overwhelming and I believe flawlessly executing the transport plan is challenging.

If you accept that trams are necessary, while also acknowledging Melbourne’s bias towards them and historically no FB tram corridor was ever protected, then how you connect FB to Southern Cross station and the CBD is the question.

If the original Webb Bridge rail link was retained and Yarra’s Edge development was started 100 metres west back in the 80s, how much better it would be. But the lack of foresight is what it is.

Five options were evaluated and evidenced in multi-criteria analysis.

Queens Bridge, which includes the 109 line. There will be five tramlines that funnel into a bottleneck that was expanded only two years ago. More trams and the new big D2 trams will fully utilise the capacity.

Charles Grimes Bridge was what everyone wanted to see work, but the Montague/Lorimer St intersection is now the busiest in Melbourne, so tramlines could not be feasibly added. It would have involved an elevated structure wrapping around the existing towers in very close proximity, creating noise problems and an eyesore.

The service road in Lorimer St would be seriously impacted, deteriorating access to the Yarra’s Edge towers and reducing Lorimer St’s capacity. Construction logistics and noise impact were also deemed too problematic.

Point Park was stridently opposed last time and government provided an undertaking this option wouldn’t happen. Point Park green space destroyed, cutting into the marina structure and cutting off most boats from the bay would have affected the viability and led to the demise of the marina, resulting in significant impairment of amenity for both marina tenants and the Yarra’s Edge community. Finally, because of the shorter span, the tramline would have been elevated through Yarra’s Edge creating a significant visual and noise impact for the Array and Yarra Point towers.

A Bolte Bridge option could not support the tram weight and is now cut off by new buildings and future permitted construction on the north side of the river.  Also journey time would be substantially more than the other options.

A new option, Hartley St was assessed and preferred. The tram bridge would start at Yarra’s Edge at ground level and would end at ground level at Collins Landing on the north side, providing a longer span enabling more height, and including walking, cycling and emergency service vehicle access.

Under this option, Point Park is saved, there is no physical construction impact on the marina, the six plus metre bridge height lessens the impact on currently berthed boats, assessed as being around 45 yachts and large motor boats with fly bridges.

There is also the potential for a tram stop location integrated with the master planned retail hub at the corner of Lorimer St and Point Park Crescent West, because the line runs at street level. By crossing Lorimer St, the tram line will break up traffic flows in Lorimer St to assist access to all the Yarra’s Edge towers which is already congested at peak hour.

Clearly there is some, but less, impact on the marina and it directly affects some boat owners. But, logically, the marina could continue to have a future. Planning is shown as occurring from now to 2020 with bridge completion by 2025.

Marina tenants are the most affected and what remains to be seen is the process by which they will be engaged to work through the issues and determine what the future plan for the marina is going to be.

In conclusion, the latest FB draft framework is a significant improvement over where things were previously, but some impairment of the marina remains.

Port traffic and congestion, if the transport plan is not delivered early, appear to be the biggest community challenge.

Submissions can be made by December 15 at and public hearings will occur in early 2018. The Framework and Planning Controls will be finalised by mid-2018, at which time the 30-40 year redevelopment journey begins.

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