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Planning power to shift in Docklands

02 Oct 2009

The State Government is working towards granting the City of Melbourne greater planning powers in Docklands.

Planning Minister Justin Madden says he’s in discussions with the council about what sort of planning partnership might be appropriate and how long this will take.

Mr Madden said VicUrban was currently both a development agency and planning authority in Docklands and he recognised that this needed to change.

“VicUrban is basically the planning authority and the developer at the same time,” Mr Madden said.   “The City of Melbourne is interested in taking on a more prominent role in the statutory planning and we’re supportive of that in principle.”

“Now we’re working through the particular arrangements and what our approach to a transition might be.”

“We’re talking about how we might make the transition to something shared, but they’re all technical matters that we’re working through with the city.”

Mr Madden said VicUrban would continue in its development role.

“VicUrban will certainly retain its strong presence across the Docklands.  It’s been here for a long time and we expect VicUrban to be here for a long time to come,” he said.

“We see it as some sort of partnership arrangement.  Both ourselves and the City of Melbourne recognise that there are commercial issues down here and that we have to maintain the viability of all the developments down here.”

Mr Madden said it was unclear when the transition would occur.

The Lord Mayor, Cr Robert Doyle, said: “VicUrban and the State Government have shown great goodwill to Melbourne City Council over Docklands planning issues and we look forward to sharing responsibility for the next stage of development.”

“This is the ideal moment in time, as we are looking at the next 10 years of planning for Docklands, to bring the city’s urban design expertise to the table,” Cr Doyle said.

“The best arrangement is for the City of Melbourne and VicUrban to work together to then present a strategic framework to the State Government.”

The president of the Docklands Community Association, Roger Gardner, said Docklands had been held back by an excessive overlay of authority.

“A big problem for Docklands development is excessive overlays of authority with the State Government, VicUrban and the City of Melbourne all trying to run things, in addition to which, inevitably, their priorities and relative amounts of power do not coincide,” Mr Gardner said.  “It’s like a troika of three horses trying to pull in the same direction.”

“The involvement of both City of Melbourne and VicUrban has complicated and added to the amount of governance. The scale of the Docklands development necessitated the significant involvement of VicUrban from the beginning but presumably VicUrban’s role will diminish now that the development phase is well advanced and as it winds down.”

“I’m saying that in the development rush, the planning and provision of infrastructure has been severely neglected and hopefully it’s not too late to fix it. Hopefully the alleged increase in planning power now given to the council will help redress the balance and priorities. This remains to be seen.”

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