Fishermans Bend: Melbourne’s hot spot for future apartment supply

February 10, 2016 / By  

Fishermans Bend is Australia’s largest urban renewal zone and has Melbourne’s biggest speculative apartment supply pipeline. 17,873 residential dwellings have been proposed in Fishermans Bend since January 2014, yet only one project, Gravity Tower has proceeded. More than 6,500 dwellings currently hold planning approval while a further 23 projects totaling 10,800 dwellings are still awaiting a decision.

So what’s the problem?

The 450 hectares of land located adjacent to Melbourne’s existing CBD is prime for residential living. It presents the growing city an opportunity to expand whilst alleviating current housing affordability concerns. The City of Melbourne is forecast to grow by 100,000 new residents per year and is earmarked as Australia’s largest city by 2051, overtaking Sydney.  Further, social trends to live in close proximity to Melbourne’s CBD have added existing pressure on dwelling supply across the inner ring.

Fishermans Bend was rezoned from an industrial use in 2012. In 2014 the existing Fishermans Bend Strategic Framework Plan was released. But the plan has caused large uncertainty over the precinct’s future livability, which has ultimately stifled development. Vague transport and infrastructure plans specifically have undermined confidence. As a result land owners have postponed construction and flipping approved development sites has become a common practice.

The newly elected Victorian Minister for Planning, the Hon Richard Wynne, is to reboot the plans with the intention to create a clear vision for the future Fishermans Bend community. Appointing the Fishermans Bend Advisory Committee (FBAC) in July 2015 was his first step.  Whilst the plans are not set to be finalised until the end of 2016 multiple amendments have already been made:

  • Land coverage increased: An additional 250 hectare zone has been added to the Fishermans Bend precinct; labelled as the employment precinct.
  • Neighbourhood planning: Individual localised structure plans will be devised for the four neighbourhood precincts of Wirraway, Sandridge, Lormier and Montague, in addition to the overarching plan.
  • Interim mandatory height limits: previously discretionary height controls were made mandatory in April 2015.
  • Proposed Transport infrastructure: The 2014 infrastructure plans for two metro stations and a tram extension from the western end of Collins Street across the Yarra River were never finalised. A new integrated transport plan will be developed.
  • Alternative use of the Port of Melbourne: In 2015 the Victorian State government leased the Port of Melbourne on a further 50 year term putting redevelopment plans on hold.
  • Public third party engagement: A draft Communications and Engagement Plan was released in September 2015 putting greater emphasis on community and stakeholder engagement.

The sheer magnitude of potential development activity is a major challenge. Docklands, Melbourne’s most recent urban regeneration precinct is 20 years into its urban renewal and has witnessed a mere 5,300 apartments developed in this timeframe.

A multitude of factors will still need to be overcome by the refreshed plans to ensure Fishermans Bend emerges as a complementary mini city to the world’s most livable city, MELBOURNE.


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