Australia’s largest urban renewal project, Fishermans Bend, already set to play a key role in supporting Melbourne’s future growth, may have some projects fast-tracked to support jobs and businesses getting back on their feet quickly after COVID-19. This will be welcome news to the construction and infrastructure sector at these difficult times.
In a May 19 article in The Age on the City’s draft budget as Australia emerged from some two months of COVID-19 lockdown, Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp said that despite many unknowns, years of prudent financial management put council in a strong position to help local businesses and vulnerable people weather the worst of the disaster.
Earmarking nearly $170 million for infrastructure projects, the mayor said long-term revival will rely on deep stimulus investment in capital works and major infrastructure to immediately get people back into jobs and eventually turbo-charge productivity. Capp highlighted a tram or train line to Fisherman’s Bend and the airport-to-city rail link as projects that can be fast-tracked, ‘unlocking major private investment and providing opportunities at an enormous scale’.
Covering some 480 hectares in the heart of Melbourne, Fishermans Bend will comprise five precincts across two municipalities – the City of Melbourne and the City of Port Phillip – and connect the CBD to the bay. By 2050, it will have approximately 80,000 residents and provide employment for up to 80,000 people on a 200-hectare ‘Employment Precinct’.
Traditionally an industrial and warehousing area, Fishermans Bend will transition into vibrant, mixed-use, medium to high-density neighbourhoods over coming decades. The Fishermans Bend Development Board guides the project’s planning and development, supported by the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions’ Fishermans Bend Taskforce.
With most of the land privately owned, its development will rely on successful partnerships between all levels of government, the private sector, and the community. After extensive public consultation in 2016/17 with the community, industry, and stakeholders, a Review Panel process culminated in the 2018 release of the Fishermans Bend Framework strategic plan and planning controls.
This guides the precinct’s transformation with plans for parks, schools, roads, transport and community facilities and services to ensure liveability as the precinct grows over the next 30 years. The Framework is driven by eight sustainability goals and commits to Fishermans Bend being a Green Star Community across social, economic, and environmental outcomes. For example, each development will be connected to a water recycling and sewer harvesting system.
An integrated transport strategy will aim for 80 percent of transport to be via sustainable means including walking and cycling. A business case in is preparation supporting two new tram routes connecting the area to the CBD, while two new metro stations are also planned.
Education will be central to the precinct, as Melbourne University plans to relocate its Parkville design and engineering campus to Fishermans Bend. Australia’s first vertical government school in Ferrars Street and an adjacent parkland were unveiled in 2018, while a secondary school under construction in Graham Street is due to open in 2022.
As the city continues its exponential growth, urban renewal becomes a necessity, with Plan Melbourne predicting that 1.6 million new homes will need to be built by 2050 to support its growing population. The vision for its centre is to create a thriving place that is a leading example of environmental sustainability, liveability, connectivity, diversity, and innovation. To improve the city’s liveability, urban planners will enhance the landscape with open and green spaces, schools, kindergartens, bike path and walking trails.
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Over the coming decades, Fishermans Bend offers an unparalleled opportunity for both urban renewal and the construction and infrastructure sector.
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