Immense relief has greeted the Victorian Government reworking of plans for the Fishermans Bend urban renewal site on the fringe of Melbourne’s CBD to incorporate significant notions of sustainability.
The new plans for the 465 hectare site, Fishermans Bend Recast Vision, appear to be a response to intense criticisms from local councils, community and sustainability industry advocates of the total absence of sustainability in plans developed by the previous government.
Planning Minister Richard Wynne said the vision, developed by a taskforce that includes Port Phillip Council and City of Melbourne, will set a framework to guide the planning for Australia’s largest urban renewal area.
There will be a strong focus on active travel.
“Fishermans Bend needs to be designed to encourage residents and commuters to get around by walking, cycling or catching public transport,” the planning document says. But there will also be an underground railway line.
“The Victorian Government – via the Taskforce – will develop a flexible and adaptable plan that meets this need. It’s expected that transport infrastructure will need to be invested in before, during and after residential and business construction.”
Confirmed on Monday was that Fishermans Bend Recast will also targeting a Green Star community rating – the largest development in Australia doing so – and along with timely infrastructure provision will include housing diversity and easily accessible and integrated transport options – all elements that were neglected in the previous plans released by former planning minister Matthew Guy.
Building resilience to climate change is also a strong agenda item.
“Fishermans Bend needs to respond to climate change challenges and build resilience by adopting strategic environmental principles, improved hazard mapping, environmentally sustainable design, ‘greening the city’ methods and renewable energy.”
The news was welcomed by the Victorian chapter of the Property Council.
“Three years ago the Property Council urged the Government to endorse the Green Star – Communities rating tool at Fishermans Bend to support sustainable, resilient and liveable communities,” acting Victorian executive director Asher Judah said.
“It is exciting to see the government commit to this important sustainability reform.”
Port Phillip Mayor Bernadene Voss was particularly pleased. She said the new plans were “a great step towards the creation of a world-class new community” and that they included a number of principles council had consistently advocated for.
Detailed planning work is now underway for five separate neighbourhoods – Montague, Sandridge, Lorrimer, Wirraway, and a new employment precinct.
There will be a mix of housing types, including high-rise apartment towers with different apartment sizes, low-rise developments and townhouses.
Open public spaces, green corridors and infrastructure for active travel including cycle and walking connections across the Yarra River to access the CBD are also part of the planning. Water-based public transport is being considered.
The framework also highlights the role of vertical greening on buildings and adding trees to streets to reduce the urban heat island effect. A recycled water network is planned which will reduce potable water use.
Ms Voss said council was also positive about the use of the Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Star Communities tool for the project.
“This will be the largest Green Star Communities project in Australia and the beginning of a collaborative partnership between the Cities of Port Phillip and Melbourne, the Fishermans Bend Taskforce and Green Building Council Australia to drive sustainable outcomes for Fishermans Bend,” she said.
“This initiative also progresses our Council’s sustainability priorities and ongoing advocacy on sustainability, including the implementation of a low carbon, water sensitive, climate adept, connected and liveable, low waste and biodiverse City.”
“Port Phillip Council made a significant contribution to the 2013 Draft Vision for Fishermans Bend, which was well-received by our community.
“As well as incorporating many of these principles, the Recast Vision is an even bolder statement and we are confident it will foster a vibrant and connected new part of our City where people will love to live, visit, learn and work.”
Green Building Council of Australia chief executive Romilly Madew said, “We applaud the Andrews government’s decision to pursue a Green Star – Communities rating for Fishermans Bend. This is something we’d been calling for over a number of years, and are delighted that the Andrews Government has responded so positively.
“The significance of the site, the scale of the project, and the far-reaching implications of ‘getting it right’ make achieving a Green Star – Communities rating an essential component of smart, sustainable planning.
“Fishermans Bend will be Australia’s largest Green Star community, and this rating will give the people of Victoria independent proof that this massive investment is not only environmentally sustainable, but also liveable, resilient, prosperous and healthy for the 80,000 people expected to live there and the 60,000 people who will work there every day.”
The framework is now out for public consultation. The relevant documents and information on how to make a submission can be found here.
Following are details on the five precincts from the draft document