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A Bright Future for Fishermans Bend


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Photo courtesy of The Fifth Estate

Fishermans Bend, one of Australia’s largest urban renewal projects, is finally back on track after its somewhat shaky and contentious start.

In February this year, the Victorian Government “called in” 26 live development applications for further assessment under new planning and development guidelines for the locality. The area comprises five precincts across part of City of Melbourne and part of City of Port Phillip local government areas, totalling approximately 480 hectares of mixed low-rise industrial, residential and commercial buildings.

The revitalised Fishermans Bend is planned to be home to around 80,000 residents and a hub for as many jobs by 2050.

The project will catalyse numerous building projects over the coming years, including transport infrastructure, public buildings, open space, recreation areas, residential buildings and commercial and industrial buildings, making it extremely attractive to the Melbourne construction industry.  

At a time when many property industry commentators are tipping a slow-down in the inner-city residential tower building, the diverse project pipeline is a welcome one, according to Executive Director of the Australian Construction Industry Forum, James Cameron.

 Large urban renewal projects like Fishermans Bend are important to sustain healthy levels of residential construction.

"The ACIF Forecasts show that after the mining construction boom, Australia experienced a residential construction boom,” Cameron tells Jobsite. “While this is now tapering off, it is expected to pick up again in coming years, and an infrastructure boom has been underway to take its place. Large urban renewal projects like Fishermans Bend are important to sustain healthy levels of residential construction. 

“Further, the substantial infrastructure, community buildings and government-funded works that will be constructed as part of this project will create even more welcome and diverse construction jobs, including apprenticeships."

The final Fishermans Bend Framework was released at the start of October, and it sets high environmental benchmarks for all developments in the area.

It employs principles from the Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Star Communities tool. The goals include a plan for the majority of journeys within the area to be undertaken on foot, or by cycle or public transport; low-carbon and climate-resilient building design; reduced waste to landfill; and water-sensitive urban design to conserve potable water resources.

All developments in the new precinct will need to achieve a minimum 4 Star Green Star rating, and buildings over 5,000 sqm must be built to 5 Star Green Star standard.

“We are delighted the Government has embraced the Green Star—Communities model and chosen to require even more environmental rigour at Fishermans Bend with the increase in requirements to a 5 Star Green Star rating for large-scale buildings which will boost the standard from best practice to Australian excellence,” GBCA Head of Public Affairs & Membership Jonathan Cartledge said.

“A holistic approach to sustainability is multifaceted, and it is encouraging to see the government also promoting social and economic sustainability outcomes through commitments to social and affordable housing and a focus on job creation,” Cartledge added.

A number of new projects have already reached completion in the area, including Victoria’s first vertical primary school—the South Melbourne Primary School. The project was judged to be one of the best school designs in the world at the 2016 World Architecture Festival Awards. Designed by Hayball and built by ADCO Constructions, it opened for its first student intake this year.

The project was judged to be one of the best school designs in the world at the 2016 World Architecture Festival Awards.

A public park, Kirrip Park, has also been completed and was officially opened in October.

With the finalisation of the framework, it can be expected more projects will soon break ground, including a new 40-level mixed-use tower being developed by Capital Alliance and Marriott International.

The tower on Normanby Road will incorporate around 200 hotel rooms and 111 private apartments, in addition to a co-working space, conference facilities and recreational amenities.

Blue Earth’s FIFTEEN85 residential tower, adjacent to the new primary school, is also shortly to commence construction.

The employment and innovation precinct is also taking shape on the drawing board.

Melbourne University is one of the new project proponents, and it has recently announced it will build a new campus on seven hectares of the former General Motors Holden site. The land was purchased by the State Government following Holden scaling back its manufacturing operations, with the goal of the site becoming an innovation and employment hub for advanced manufacturing, design, engineering and technology.

The campus, set to open in the early 2020s, aims to attract over 1,000 engineering and IT students and academics. Its focus will be on collaborations with industry in emerging research and technology fields including electric vehicles.

Large-scale research facilities are also proposed including wind and water tunnels and engine propulsion testing facilities.

A report just released by AECOM, Transforming Fishermans Bend, has identified the potential of the employment precinct to generate $12 billion in economic benefit for the region by 2030. It proposes a 230-hectare precinct that can deliver 55,000 advanced industry jobs and support a new light rail connection to the Melbourne CBD and a ferry link to Docklands.

“We know the employment precinct has far greater potential than is being currently considered."

“Much of the thinking to date around Fishermans Bend has been focused on planning issues in the residential areas,” report author and AECOM’s Melbourne Cities leader, Tim O’Loan said. “This has drawn focus away from the employment area resulting in a lack of clarity on what needs to happen in the next 10 years to ensure the precinct is home to up to 80,000 jobs by 2050, the target set out by the government in its Fishermans Bend Framework.

“We know the employment precinct has far greater potential than is being currently considered, and if curated properly, it will help to sustain a more vibrant and connected residential precinct as well.”

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