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Local facilities: All talk, no action

30 Nov 2010

By Alison Kinkade

VicUrban is backing away from previous commitments to community infrastructure in Docklands.

Six years ago VicUrban was proud to say that it required all developers to contribute 5 per cent of their built space to community infrastructure (also called human services).

But today, with practically nothing to show on the ground, VicUrban says it is wrong to talk in terms of percentages.

According to acting general manager for Docklands, Simon Wilson: “The Second Decade of Docklands is about more than just buildings. It’s about people.”

According to its 2004 timeline, VicUrban and the City of Melbourne should have already delivered a community hub, an aged-care facility, indoor and outdoor recreation facilities and a primary school.

Instead, it has gone back into “consultation mode” and is again asking Docklanders what they want.

Asked specifically about the 5 per cent contribution, VicUrban said it was seeking ideas and opinions: “Upon completion it is expected that the level of community infrastructure within Docklands will reflect the needs of the Docklands community.”

VicUrban says that 1,144,983 sqm or 44 per cent of Docklands was completed or under construction as of last December.  However it also admits that only 12,000 sqm – or 1 per cent – has so far been dedicated to community infrastructure.

And even then, VicUrban’s definition of what constitutes a community facility is questionable. It nominates three projects – the Harbour Family and Children’s Centre in Victoria Harbour; the National Ice Sports Centre at Waterfront City; and Melbourne City Sports offices on the stadium concourse.

Some 129,853.3 sqm will need to be allocated to facilities if the 5 per cent figure is to be met when Docklands is finished.

With the exception of Lend Lease, Docklands’ developers are also ducking for cover when questioned on their commitment to community facilities, with many citing commercial confidentiality as their reason for not responding.

ING Real Estate offered a flat “no comment”.  MAB said it would have more to say in the new year while Mirvac and PanUrban failed to return numerous calls and emails from Docklands News.  Digital Harbour says if it houses a primary school, then that would more than satisfy its obligations.

Lend Lease said in its master plan, it was committed to delivering a civic building at Dock Square, an amphitheatre, a community boating hub, parks and promenades, as well as potentially a tall ship museum and a 50-metre heated outdoor public pool.

Docklands Community Association president Roger Gardner said he also understood there was a 5 per cent requirement. He said what has been developed so far was completely inadequate.

“It is unacceptable that we do not even have a community hall and that we have to pay restaurants to conduct community meetings,” Mr Gardner said.

“We are still waiting on a library which is said to be coming, but who knows when, and we also need recreational facilities,” he said.

VicUrban’s 2004 document says: “Lack of services and infrastructure can cement in people’s minds that Docklands in not a place for families, or not a place to age.”

“It impacts on the choices people exercise about living and working in the Docklands, and over what period of time.”

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Comments

  • mrcommunity at 7:21pm on 08/12/10

    None of this surprises me. The people at Vicurban tend to concentrate on getting the next big bonus rather than dealing with the needs of the local Communities. I would suggest putting your concerns in to the new planning minister, Matthew Guy.

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