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Community voice to be heard in Fishermans Bend

13 Aug 2015

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By Alana Beitz

The Minister for Planning Richard Wynne has appointed a team of community representatives to advise him on the development of the Fishermans Bend precinct.

The Fishermans Bend Ministerial Advisory Committee comprises 11 members with a variety of expertise in areas such as architecture, transport, business and government.

Mr Wynne believes the committee will lead to a more transparent, insightful and community-focused development of the precinct.

“I’ve chosen a committee which brings together the best in planning experts and community members, giving locals a direct voice in the process,” he said.

The Fishermans Bend precinct covers an area of 450 hectares to be divided into five distinct neighborhoods, making it the largest urban renewal project in Australia.

While approvals for residential developments have already been made, there has been resounding concern from the community that services such as schools, transport and public spaces are being sidelined.

One of the major obstacles in the development of Fishermans Bend is that most of the land is privately owned, minimising the potential for open spaces and shared community facilities.

Public administration leader Meredith Sussex has been appointed as the chair of the committee, and says the success of Fishermans Bend will come down to planning and timing.

“It is unusual for a major urban renewal project to be undertaken when most of the land is privately owned,” she said. “But that provides us with the opportunity to develop new planning models.”

“The timing of delivery of new infrastructure, including transport, schools and community facilities has been an issue in new neighbourhoods across the world. Fishermans Bend provides an opportunity to do a better job of this.”

Ms Sussex believes any planning that involves the community is positive.

“Decisions made with community input are simply better decisions than those made without that input,” she said.

Docklands resident Phil Spender is one of three community representatives elected to the committee, and he is looking forward to a more open and inclusive approach to the development of Fishermen’s Bend.

Mr Spender says that there needs to be a “watering down of political power” in new urban development, after the previous government rezoned land without community consultation.

He said he hoped this Labor government would take a more transparent approach to the development of the precinct, notifying residents to changes, and opening avenues for community members to appeal decisions.

“The key to Fishermans Bend’s success will be sensible and sustainable development,” he said. “If this can be achieved, the area will grow into an attractive location for a diversity of people.”

The other two community representatives elected to the committee are former mayor Janet Bolitho, and Fishermans Bend Network member Helen Halliday.

They will work with committee members Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, Port Phillip Mayor Amanda Stevens and a number of experts in design and planning including: Lucinda Hartley (urban renewal); Michelle Howard (social infrastructure); Eric Keys (integrated transport); Rob McGauran (architecture and housing); and Tania Quick (business and local industry).

The committee was expected to have its first meeting in early August and it is expected the first stage of strategic planning will be finished by early 2016.

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