Fishermans Bend: Getting it right for the future

26 Apr 2018

In the time since the Victorian Government announced its recast vision for Fishermans Bend, Melbourne has become Australia’s fastest growing city, with its population increasing by around 100,000 people a year.

Fishermans Bend presents an obvious answer to this growth. Just 5 kilometres from the Melbourne CBD, there is enormous potential for government and industry to work together and build a vibrant community that meets the growing need for housing and jobs.

This urban renewal project is the biggest of its kind in Australia, and larger than every other urban renewal project in Victoria combined.

In 2016, the GBCA welcomed the Government’s recast vision which placed sustainability front and centre in a plan for a liveable and productive community. The draft Framework, released in October last year built on these goals and developed an ambitious framework for emissions reduction, affordability, resource efficiency and biodiversity. The GBCA has commended the Government for the policy leadership shown in this document – examples include the commitment to create a low carbon community, a plan for climate resilience and to maximise renewable energy generation and storage.

However, before industry can commence the delivery phase of the project we will need to consider several issues to ensure that we implement a successful plan for Fishermans Bend.

First, a clear governance model should be established to ensure the required leadership for the implementation of this major project. In order for commercial scale development to take place at Fishermans Bend, policy certainty is a must. Statutorily independent development corporations, such as the Barangaroo Delivery Authority and the Sydney Olympic Park Authority provide models to consider but they must be adapted to meet the requirements of the project.

Second, the community should have confidence that the development outcomes proposed in the Fishermans Bend draft Framework will be met. Recent weeks have seen formal hearings held to develop recommendations for the permanent planning controls, which highlighted a mix of views on the appropriate performance standards for developments in the precinct. The Government has stated that it wants Fishermans Bend to be a water sensitive, biodiverse, low carbon, low waste community. We must be clear about the metrics for what will achieve those goals, but also how we can verify whether or not these standards are being met. Seeking independent verification through a robust independent third party process, such as the Green Star Certification offered by the GBCA, is particularly useful in this regard since it gives industry confidence that their design aspirations will be met.

Finally, Government should translate its policy leadership into action and strive for best practice outcomes where development on government owned land with the precinct is concerned. A good example is the development of the Defence Innovation Hub on the GM Holden site, which presents a chance for Government to demonstrate what can be achieved against the standards in the draft Framework. Such opportunities should be identified immediately.

Getting planning right at Fishermans Bend will leave a long lasting legacy. We are almost ready for delivery – but we must get things right from the beginning. Only then can Fishermans Bend be developed into a flagship community that Melbournians can be proud to call home.