The Victorian Government recently released its new strategy for Fishermans Bend. The plan involves amendments to the Melbourne and Port Phillip Planning Schemes and provides a plan for the short and long term development of the Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Plan.

Key changes

  • Expanding the Fishermans Bend urban renewal area to include a new Employment Precinct. This will increase the size of the urban renewal area from 250 hectares to 455 hectares.
  • The Minister for Planning will be the decision maker on developments 25,000 square metres and above in the Melbourne Planning Scheme and for developments that achieve identified thresholds in the Port Phillip Planning Scheme.
  • Discretionary and preferred height limits will be replaced with interim mandatory height limits (see below). No height controls will apply in the Employment Precinct.
  • The creation of a Ministerial Advisory Committee with independent experts and community representatives to provide detailed advice.
  • The creation of a taskforce, led by the Metropolitan Planning Authority, to drive the development of detailed plans for each precinct and an overarching infrastructure plan.
  • The Fishermans Bend Strategic Framework Plan, July 2014 incorporated document is updated to remove references to a train station in the Montague Precinct, associated Rail Investigation area, and preferred heights. The incorporated document will be renamed “Fishermans Bend Strategic Framework Plan, July 2014 (amended April 2015)” and consequential changes to update reference to the plan will be made in both schemes.

Interim mandatory maximum height controls

Discretionary and preferred height limits have been replaced with interim mandatory maximum limits of 40 storeys in the Montague and Lorimer Precincts and 18 storeys in the Sandridge and Wirraway Precincts, with lower maximum height limits in the areas abutting existing neighbourhoods in Port Melbourne.

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Development Contributions and Public Open Space

The Fisherman’s Bend Development Contributions Plan has yet to be finalised. The MPA intends to finalise the plan within 12 months. The MPA estimates that the DCP levy will be $16,000 (2013 dollars) per dwelling, $18,000 per 100 square metres of office and $15,000 per 100 square metres of retail floor space.

Public open space contributions will be the equivalent of 8% of site value.

Land Contamination

The plan acknowledges that contamination is present and will be a challenge during redevelopment. The EPA is developing a precinct-based approach to streamline the environmental audit process. In the interim, the plan states that development should be responsive to, rather than driven by, existing ground conditions.

Effect on existing permit applications

All existing permit applications will be determined in accordance with the Planning Scheme provisions in place at the time the application was made.

All new applications made will be assessed under the new controls, including the mandatory height limits.

The mandatory height limits only apply for two years from the date of this planning scheme amendment (GC29), ie, from 20 April 2015 until 20 April 2017.

Future timelines

The Victorian Government has also released a timeline for the review and finalisation of the new Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Plan.

By mid-2015, the Ministerial Advisory Committee and taskforce will be created and these bodies will drive the development of the five distinctive Neighbourhood Precinct Plans, which are due to be completed in quarter 1 2016, with the final Fishermans Bend plan and consequent planning scheme amendments due to be finalised in mid-late 2016.

With revised interim planning controls in place and consultation underway on permanent controls, it is likely that the ‘decision freeze’ on development applications will cease and that developers and agencies with land or assets within Fisherman’s Bend will have a new formal opportunity to engage with the Metropolitan Planning Authority (MPA) and associated agencies on the future strategic planning for Fisherman’s Bend.