The Victorian State Government has revised the strategic framework for the Fishermans Bend urban renewal precinct.  Last week, Minster for Planning Richard Wynne, released an amended Fishermans Bend Strategic Framework Plan that includes a number of key changes to the July 2014 document prepared by the previous coalition Government.  Notable changes include:

  • the removal of references to the train station in the Montague Precinct and the associated Rail Investigation Area;
  • the replacement of preferred heights with interim mandatory maximum heights, including a 40-storey height limit in the Montague and Lorimar precincts;
  • a change to the responsible authority for the determination of planning permit applications, with councils to consider the majority of applications aside from those proposing a floor area of 25,000 square metres or above (to be determined by the Minister for Planning);
  • the addition of a fifth precinct for employment, increasing the urban renewal area by 205 hectares.

The Government also appears to be committed to further community engagement, stating that locals will be invited to apply for community positions on a Ministerial Advisory Committee that will also include independent experts.

Although the Metropolitan Planning Authority (MPA) will no longer be responsible for the assessment of planning permit applications, the MPA will lead a taskforce to drive the development of individual precinct plans and an overarching infrastructure plan in consultation with other authorities and stakeholders.

The development of Fishermans Bend is predicted to occur over a 30-year period and upon completion, will accommodate approximately 40,000 jobs and 80,000 residents.  Eleven apartment towers have already been approved by previous Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, with at least ten more tower applications under assessment.

Fishermans Bend was also in the news last week with The Age reporting the extensive costs associated with the remediation of highly contaminated sites.  It is expected that some sites may cost up to $10 million per hectare in remediation works.  The Environmental Protection Authority is undertaking a study to determine the potential risk of contaminated ground water.  This further assessment follows a preliminary report completed in 2012 by Golder Associates which identified 20 “high risk” sites within the urban renewal area.

We will be interested to see how planning for Fishermans Bend development unfolds over the coming months.  We expect that the new Government will be keen to ensure that the criticisms (often premature in our view) about the Docklands development is not repeated in Fishermans Bend.