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Keeping it in the family

03 May 2011

Editorial Comment, by Shane Scanlan

Docklands’ businesses suffered another unnecessary blow last month when the Lord Mayor again criticised the precinct.

Cr Robert Doyle no doubt means well, but he should reflect on the damage he does to Docklands every time he publicly raises its perceived deficiencies.

In radio conversation with 3AW’s Neil Mitchell last month, Cr Doyle said: “I have a real fear that the planning in traffic was so wrong that it can’t be fixed.”

“The present management at VicUrban is doing the best they can. But I think the management of VicUrban, going right back to the very start, has a lot to answer for in terms of the design and the urban planning that they have now visited on us and the businesses down there.”

Cr Doyle took apparent care to confine his remarks to traffic conditions.  But to the broader audience, Docklands’ beleaguered Harbour Esplanade roadworks have become interchangeable with Docklands itself.

This is particularly so because Channel Seven’s anger and frustration with major disruption for the last nine months has resulted in it “belting” VicUrban at every opportunity in its television news coverage over the decision to “pacify” Harbour Esplanade.

Cr Doyle’s recent comments again featured on Channel Seven’s news, complete with a humiliating grab of a befuddled VicUrban acting CEO Sam Sangster and some
historic file footage of a frustrated motorist stuck in traffic.

While Docklands News does not support the decision to effectively reduce Harbour Esplanade from two lanes to one, we sympathise with its intent of discouraging through traffic.

And in the fullness of time, the decision to make driving through Docklands a poor choice will probably be applauded as visionary for its day.

But right now, it is hurting the equally visionary people who are trying to build businesses and lives for themselves against the odds in a brand new suburb without a critical mass of local residential support.  Retail and hospitality businesses here need outsiders to survive.  And they drive cars.

The negative publicity about what a nightmare it is to drive to Docklands is unlikely to result in reinstating two lanes of traffic.  The Harbour Esplanade piggy bank is empty.

But in a bitter irony, the bad publicity is actually keeping the roads clear by keeping people away from Docklands.  And that is hurting local businesses.

The sad fact of the matter is that despite being “relatively” well served by public transport, for the wider community, public transport is not an option.

Unlike in New York or London, only environmental zealots would choose to take the train or tram for a night out at a Docklands restaurant (for example).

So telling people not to drive to Docklands is actually the same things as telling people not to come to Docklands.

All Docklanders need to work together to promote and protect the Docklands “brand”.

If there are problems with traffic, or anything else, we certainly need to work things out.  But we need to do it without damaging the brand.

Docklands is like a family.  We have our issues between us but we should keep our disputes and frank discussions amongst ourselves unless there is a very good reason to do otherwise.

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  • james fredericks at 4:47pm on 04/05/11

    the "perceived deficiencies" are more than that. they are very real and tangible. unfortunately i have to drive in to the precinct occasionally to deliver my girlfriend to work, and it is an excruciating and incredibly frustrating proposition. It just used to be REALLY BAD, but with the recent tram line "upgrades" it has become UNBEARABLE.
  • james fredericks at 4:48pm on 04/05/11

    to continue -

    add to this that pedestrian traffic to the area is cut off on all side by multi lane roadways (which high paid planning expert decided it was good idea to build Wurundjery Way, effectively cutting off the precinct from any foot traffic from the city just a couple hundred metres away?) and you have a recipe for an urban wasteland.
  • james fredericks at 4:49pm on 04/05/11

    part 3
    Sorry, but I and everybody i know hate Docklands. It's a manufactured , culturally void landscape made worse by utterly abysmal planning mistakes and mismanagement. Rather than try and shut Doyle up, maybe you should listen to what he's saying and start over. As it stands now, Docklands will never work. It needs a MASSIVE rethink.
  • George of Harbour One at 8:10pm on 04/05/11

    Docklands is a beautiful place. Only big problem is the traffic congestion. It was foolish to Greenify the area by reducing the capacity to move cars around the few roads in Docklands. Its hard for the residents to get to and from their own buildings. Too much emphasis on anti-car policies. Cars bring money to the City Of Melbourne Mr Doyle!!

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