80,000 people are expected to live in Fishermans Bend by 2050. (Supplied: Victorian Government)
Developers at Fishermans Bend, south of Melbourne’s CBD, will have the height and density of their projects restricted under a new planning framework released by the Victorian Government.
- New planning rules set height restrictions for developers at Fishermans Bend
- The new framework also outlines where public transport and schools are needed
- Developers are concerned about how they will be compensated for private land taken over for public use
Fishermans Bend is one of the biggest urban redevelopment projects in Australia and involves the conversion of about 480 hectares of former industrial land into five precincts.
The area is projected to house 80,000 people in residential zones and employ 80,000 people in an employment zone by 2050.
Under the new planning framework, development height will be restricted to mid-rise buildings in several precincts, and 20-storey developments will be required to be set back 10 metres from the street.
Developers will also be allowed to build higher dwelling density projects “in exchange for the provision of a defined public benefit”, under a strategy aimed at boosting the amount of social housing.
In February, the Government took the “unprecedented” step of putting 26 high-rise development applications worth billions of dollars on hold while the planning controls were finalised.
Planning Minister Richard Wynne said those applicants will now be able to have their permits assessed by an independent panel.
“The opportunity will now be available for developers to have certainty in terms of what they can build in Fishermans Bend, and there will be certainty for the communities who live close by to Fishermans Bend, of what can be built there,” Mr Wynne said.
“We will put in place height controls, so there will no longer be unfettered development.
“We will articulate where the public transport links in Fishermans Bend — light rail in the first instance — will be, where public open space will be, where the schools will be, all the basic infrastructure.”
A report commissioned by the Andrews Government found Opposition Leader Matthew Guy rezoned the land for development before proper infrastructure planning had been completed when he was Victoria’s planning minister in 2012.
Mr Guy said at the time of the report’s release that it was a “political stitch-up” and the Labor Government’s continuation of planning for a significant population at Fishermans Bend was proof his work on the precinct was sound.
An artist’s impression of what Ingles Street will look like at Fishermans Bend. (Supplied: Victorian Government)
Developers given six weeks to re-submit plans
The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) said developers whose applications were put on hold had been given six weeks to re-submit their planning applications to a committee which would use the new framework to make a recommendation to the Minister on whether the revised plans should be approved.
The UDIA’s Victorian chief executive, Danni Addison, said the November state election meant those applications would remain on hold until next year.
“There will be a whole lot of money and effort expended to be able to rework the planning applications within the six-week timeframe,” Ms Addison said.
“The Minister’s also said that no other permits outside of those 26 will be granted in the precinct until an Infrastructure Contribution Plan is done, and that they’re mooting for mid-2019.
“What that means is that while it’s a very, very good exercise to do a plan across the area to understand where infrastructure will go and how it will be funded, the development industry is essentially still on hold, and we will not see any activity in Fishermans Bend until at least late 2019, if that.”
‘Radical’ height changes worry developers
Ms Addison said while developers were ready to work with the state government and not-for-profit groups to deliver a mix of social and private housing on their sites, there were concerns about the new height restrictions.
“The controls are radically different to the interim controls under which those applications were made,” she said.
“In every way, not just height but setbacks, overshadowing and essentially the land uses on some of those sites are now designated for public open space and public transport connections.
“That in itself is good planning, it’s very good to be able to do these things before development happens.
“In Fishermans Bend we don’t have that opportunity because this land is privately owned.”
Ms Addison said the Government had still not fully explained how it would negotiate with developers to build public infrastructure on private land.
“The compensation regime is still entirely unclear, the Government’s told us that will be sorted out as part of the Infrastructure Contribution Plan but again, that may take six, eight months at a minimum and we expect it might take a bit longer,” she said.
“And in that time, there really is uncertainty as to just how that land would be acquired by Government or whether or not there would be a joint partnership approach to delivering that infrastructure … we remain in quite an uncertain position.”