The jewel in Melbourne’s crown
By Cr Jamal Hakim
Docklands is the water gateway to Melbourne.
Those who know Docklands know it is an amazing place to live, work and play. But Docklands has long been perceived as an isolated neighbourhood that lacks community. I’ve always argued this is not true – Docklands is home to a growing community that is set to bloom.
When I first moved to Melbourne after graduating from uni in 2008, I stumbled across Docklands for lunch and I fell in love with the place. Since then, I’ve called Docklands home and have seen it evolve and grow every year, whether it’s the tram realignment on Harbour Esplanade, the upgrades to The District, or the addition of Ron Barassi Senior Park. By 2019, Docklands was going from strength to strength with an extra 39,100 jobs created in the precinct in the preceding decade. Then came 2020.
Docklands was one of the worst affected neighbourhoods in the country under the pandemic. Two-thirds of shopfronts were vacant, thousands of apartments sat empty, and offices became unoccupied shells. As we emerged from lockdowns, Docklands started to take shape again – but something was missing.
At the City of Melbourne, we are not going to let this burgeoning, dynamic suburb fade away. We hosted the recent Docklands Summit to bring the community together, build trust and establish common ground to start delivering for Docklands.
Docklands is an asset to Melbourne as a thriving, connected and exciting neighbourhood. The Summit is only the start of our work. It gave us a platform to set out short-, medium- and long-term actions for success.
We need a three-pronged approach. We need to foster a collaborative community environment, maintain energy and momentum to delivery, and we need to create certainty and common drivers. This is how actions envisaged are delivered, and this is how the vision for Docklands as the water gateway to Melbourne is realised and maximised.
Collaboration through active participation across the community is essential. Residents, businesses, and government: collaboration means balanced outcomes that best meet the needs of the community. Every single person has a role to play in manifesting Docklands’ bright future by taking part and genuinely working together.
A collaborative environment lays the bedrock for action, and maintaining momentum is critical. The actions from the Summit have a short, medium and long-term view so Docklands is progressively transforming every year. In the short-term, an oversight working group and the neighbourhood portal will play an important role in facilitating that momentum by holding each other to account and driving delivery right now, while a strategic plan and multi-agency partnership will curate outcomes in the medium- and long-term.
There are positive signs the neighbourhood is regaining its 2019 rhythm. Throughout November, night-time activity was above pre-pandemic levels. The state government has committed to the redevelopment of Central Pier as a hub for hospitality, entertainment and retail – a project that has the potential to generate more than $770 million in economic benefits and create as many as 3800 jobs.
To harness this momentum, clear themes for Docklands will provide clarity and direction to locals, visitors and government. Its rich maritime heritage pulses like an undercurrent, connecting 60,000 years of experience. It is an increasingly family-friendly and accessible suburb, with the school, library and community centres as anchor points. Docklands is home to innovation hubs for technology, film, sport, arts and technology. These reasons and more are why people choose to live, work and visit Docklands.
The Summit allowed the community to come together and step into the driving seat. When there is unity, nothing is impossible. The outcomes are clear, and a whole-of-community effort will ensure Docklands continues to grow as a thriving and exciting place to live, work and play. •