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Our forgotten future

26 Feb 2020

By Jeff Gordon

“I believe that the more you know about the past, the better you are prepared for the future”; not my words but those of President Theodore Roosevelt. And so it is for Docklands.

With the recent demise of Central Pier are we going to lose the last link to the glorious past of Victoria Harbour as an ocean port, the link to the idea that Victoria Harbour is an actual harbour and that it once was a safe anchorage for trading and naval ships from around the world, with all the great bustle of activity that went with it.

The other past we must consider is the recent past of rampant development, of high-rise buildings and delayed urban infrastructure, of being pilloried in the media as “Darklands” with many missed opportunities to develop a sense of community.

We Docklanders are at a crucial point. We are deciding what we as a community want to happen in the blue/grey/green space that is the centre of our community. At the centre of that space and recently condemned by Development Victoria is Central Pier - a once thriving part of the Port of Melbourne and since 2006, a successful function centre with a pub, restaurants, nightclubs and busy commercial charter boats.

I have been assured by Development Victoria that the Docklands community will be consulted in whatever the future development of Central Pier looks like. However, I am not convinced that such consultation will really consider our desires unless we combine to have a strong voice. With that said, I am calling a meeting of interested residents and business owners to come together to hear opinions and discuss likely options.

We need to think about what we want the future Central Pier development to look like.

Do we want to:

Leave the pier as is to eventually collapse?

Demolish the pier and leave the piles with white caps as an art piece?

Remove the heritage buildings, make the pier good and replace as is?

Keep the heritage footprint and build high rise apartments?

Build an opera house or similar landmark building?

I am sure that whatever happens to Central Pier it will be linked to the development of Harbour Esplanade and AFL House in front of Marvel Stadium.

We are lucky to have the Lord Mayor Sally Capp living in Docklands and deeply interested in the area as well as Cr Jacqueline Watts, who is developing the Melbourne Maritime Heritage Network with a strong eye on the precinct and its future development.

The exciting development of a laser and light show pursued doggedly by the president of the Docklands Chamber of Commerce Joh Maxwell will give Docklands businesses a much-needed boost in an increasing difficult time, which was not at all been helped by the sudden closure of Central Pier.

However, we as Docklanders need to come together and speak with a strong voice as to what we desire for the area, our homes and our businesses.

We need to make this a positive outcome for the community and not be driven from the top down as has been done in the past.

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