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Victoria Harbour plan approved

29 Mar 2011

Victoria Harbour plan approved Image

It’s been a long time coming, but the State Government has finally approved a new master-plan for Victoria Harbour.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy signed off the plan late last month.

About two years ago, the previous Labor Government went back to the various Docklands’ developers and asked them to revise their plans based on a new policy principle of urban consolidation.

Lend Lease’s Victoria Harbour project director Ellie Schwab said that Lend Lease felt it was important to learn from the first 10 years of the project and to apply the lessons learnt.

“We took a deliberate approach to workshop with VicUrban, the council and government to reach a better outcome for Victoria Harbour,” Ms Schwab said.

“It gave us a chance to evaluate just who our residents and workers are and we now understand them a lot better.  We also understand the micro-climate of the Docklands which I think we all under-estimated. ”

“And also what the community has been telling us is that there has been a lack of focus on facilities for them.  So we put all that into the mix and we believe we’ve got a really strong plan.”

Victoria Harbour is currently 70 per cent complete commercially and 20 per cent complete in a residential sense.  Some 2000 homes are still to come.  There is also approval for a hotel.  Victoria Harbour is scheduled to be completed by 2021.

Although Lend Lease has been proceeding with new developments without the Minister’s actual signature on the overall plan, it had been reluctant to talk publicly without being 100 per cent certain of the future.

But with the approval, it has now ramped up its communication effort and has just launched a new website with a focus on receiving feedback (http://www.victoriaharbourtalks.com.au).

Ms Schwab said that, although the fundamentals of the plan were now in place, there is still a great opportunity and a need to add an overlay from the community, in particular, in relation to social infrastructure.

The plan includes a community facility around the proposed civic square at the intersection of Collins and Bourke streets, but the actual nature of the facility is yet to be determined. Lend Lease wants to attract the City of Melbourne’s promised Docklands library in this facility.

All the community facilities outlined in the plan are, as yet, unfunded and need to be negotiated with council and government.

Lend Lease’s favoured outcome would be to co-locate at the civic square a boating hub with a 4000 sqm civic building, which ideally would have a library, a wellness centre and a pool.

Broadly, the plan divides a CBD-style extension of the city west to the intersection of Collins and Bourke streets and a heritage-themed, mixed-use, low-rise development along the rest of the Wharf Rd peninsula.

“What works really well is having a richness of uses – having commercial, retail and residential together.”

Collins St is being extended all the way to the old harbour control tower, which will become the focal point at the end of Melbourne’s most prestigious street.

Unlike during the first decade of Docklands, Lend Lease is now committed to installing the public infrastructure such as roads and parks before the buildings are constructed.

“We are now looking for ways to roll out infrastructure earlier and would like to complete Bourke St, Collins St, the square and, ideally, the community facility by 2013,” Ms Schwab said.

“It is critical for us to deliver ‘place’ and we can only do that by delivering places that people want to use.”

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