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Turning the corner

05 Dec 2013

Editorial comment by Shane Scanlan

2013 could well have been the year that Docklands turned the corner.

It has been a year of “normalisation” in that some of this year’s event would have, in previous years, been thought extraordinary.

These days the opening of new corporate campuses and apartment towers barely raise an eyebrow.  

Instead of looking at our vast hectares of undeveloped land in semi-despair, we now accept that it is just a matter of time before the rest of the world comes to appreciate the opportunity.

Even the re-opening of the wheel will not be thought of as a panacea for a troubled suburb.  

Did anyone else notice that the Docklands-bashing in the mainstream press eased up in 2013?  However, it’s unlikely that the shock-jocks and columnists have changed their views.  It’s more likely that they have just done the “Docklands is a disaster” story to death.

It’s reassuring to see new restaurants opening in Docklands.  While confined particularly to Batman’s Hill and Victoria Harbour, this is nevertheless a vote of confidence in our suburb.

Significantly, these two precincts see themselves more as an extension of the CBD and are beginning to distance themselves from the term “Docklands”.  

On the issue of reputation, 2013 has been a wasted opportunity to develop a uniting brand for all Docklanders.

Perhaps we had too much faith in the Docklands Community Forum (DCF), where the question of brand was originally identified by the community as one of four priority issues but has not been discussed this year.

The DCF continues to conduct itself as an information session with the prospect of the community actually setting the agenda fading fast.  

The City of Melbourne seems to have engaged well with the so-called Docklands Representative Group (which it selected and appointed) but appears to have confused this group with the forum itself and the wider community.

Destination Docklands chairman David Cochrane has expressed a desire to get the brand development issue off the ground, which is to be applauded.  It remains to be seen whether his staff can adopt an inclusive style of thinking that will be required to be successful with this.

While there are still significant pockets of gloom within Docklands, this year saw a greater general level of confidence emerging.

As a barometer of the general economic health of the suburb, Docklands News witnessed an upsurge in unsolicited advertising enquiry towards the end of 2013.

Fingers crossed, this continues into 2014 and the Docklands local economy begins to gather the momentum it lost about four years ago.

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