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Editions

No clues on Harbour Esplanade’s future

03 May 2011

VicUrban and the City of Melbourne are working on the future of Harbour Esplanade but any public consultations are still some way off.

The Docklands Community Association is concerned that decisions may be made before residents are consulted.  But VicUrban says that, at this stage, there is simply nothing to consult on.

“It’s time for VicUrban to come clean on what they’ve got in mind for development of the Esplanade from the road to the waterfront,” said DCA president Roger Gardner.  “They’ve had 10 years to think about it.  We don’t expect detailed plans but we are entitled to know the broad concept by now!”

“The last thing we want is for this precious open space to be handed over to developers for yet more buildings.  It must be retained as open space for everybody including residents, workers and visitors. It needs to be converted to parkland.”
VicUrban and the council meet weekly to discuss the options and it is likely that some concrete proposals will be included in Second Decade of Docklands initiatives which are due for release mid-year.

Docklands News understands that the City of Melbourne is seriously pushing for a return of the historic sheds that were removed in 2000 to open up Melbourne’s waterfront.  The sheds were put into storage and council planners want them back.

It is understood that the council is keen on market-type activities for the sheds.

The DCA is also concerned that nothing more has been announced about options for Western Park, under the Bolte Bridge at NewQuay West.

DCA president Roger Gardner said: “We seem to be getting nowhere with the development of Western Park. Options have been put forward for months. The Melbourne Football Club made a presentation to the DCA in early February.”

Mr Gardner said he was frustrated that the DCA had not been given details by VicUrban about the other two proposed uses of the park – an ecological park or a recreational park.

“This is an important issue for residents because of the lack of parkland in Docklands, but the area continues to lie idle and derelict. Surely until such time as the fate of the area is known, VicUrban could at least have it cleaned up, levelled and mowed and a couple of seats put in so that the public can use it.”

Docklands News understands that a bid by the Melbourne Football Club for an elite training facility may be languishing in an effective stalemate.

With decisions on the future of the area due to be released as part of the mid-year Second Decade of Docklands announcements, the Demons have not progressed its negotiations with VicUrban.

From VicUrban’s perspective, it wants to see whether Melbourne has attracted the necessary finance before spending more time developing the option.  And, from Melbourne’s perspective, it wants some guarantees that its bid is the preferred one before it can effectively raise the money.

MAB Corporation is also heavily involved in the negotiation, having effectively given up the right to build a residential tower to accommodate a MCG-sized football ground.

It is understood that MAB may have been promised the right to build a tower elsewhere, probably at Waterfront City where it is due to announce it will be taking over development from ING Real Estate.

The Docklands community has been invited to again meet the council and VicUrban on May 11 as part of the continuing Second Decade of Docklands consultation.

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