Calls heighten to support struggling precinct

By Sean Car

Residents from neighbouring Beacon Cove in Port Melbourne have called on the state government to “step-up” and redevelop the deteriorating Station Pier and Waterfront Place precinct.

As a key gateway feeding into central Melbourne, the recent announcement by Spirit of Tasmania operator TT-Line that it would be relocating its services from Station Pier to Geelong has renewed calls for the precinct to be reimagined.

Also home to the 109 tram depot, which travels directly through Southbank, an abandoned building and a series of struggling cafes and restaurants are what some 700,000 annual passengers are met with upon arrival.

President of the Beacon Cove Neighbourhood Association (BCNA) Eddie Micallef said the relocation of Spirit of Tasmania and the demise of the cruise ship industry as a result of COVID-19 meant the precinct required urgent attention.

“Now is the time for the Victorian Government to step-up and take the lead in the redevelopment of the precinct,” he said.

“The area requires a planned, strategic redevelopment so that it works better for all users--visitors, residents, and the ships that use Station Pier. The area is an important community precinct and a ‘gateway’ to Melbourne for cruise ship passengers.”

Member for Albert Park Martin Foley said the future of Station Pier was a “critical part” of Victoria’s tourism and visitor economy and that now was the time to take a renewed look at the broader precinct.

“The precinct has had many ‘visions’, ‘structure plans’ and other plans - rather than look to the past I am concerned to plan a new future for the new reality the precinct faces,” he said.

“We need to resolve what is the future uses of the pier and the community interest in that future use. That will determine the infrastructure needs.”

While the City of Port Phillip (CoPP) developed the Port Melbourne Waterfront Urban Design Framework back in 2013, which focuses on the area from Bay St through to Princes Pier, the BCNA say a more coordinated, state government-led plan is required.

The state government provided the City of Port Phillip with $50,000 in September last year to develop a precinct plan for the redevelopment of the precinct, and the Victorian Ports Corporation is continuing its redevelopment plans for the pier itself.

CoPP Mayor Bernadene Voss said that while the council understood the importance of state government stimulus funding “shovel-ready” projects amid COVID-19, it was unable pursue funding until it received more information from VicPorts about the site’s future.

“As the cruise ship industry faces global challenges due to the COVID-19 health crisis, we are expecting a much smaller cruise season and fewer ships docking at Station Pier,” Cr Voss said. “We expect this to continue for the next few years until the industry recovers, which may have a flow-on affect for some local businesses.”

“We feel this is a unique opportunity to reconsider and co-create a plan for the future of Station Pier to become a place that is not only attractive and useful for locals all year round, but is an engaging welcome for cruise visitors.”

The City of Port Phillip prepared draft design guidelines for the Waterfront Place precinct in 2018, which Cr Voss said aimed to “guide future development, public realm and land use change”, and to inform a future planning scheme amendment. 

VicPorts did not respond to Southbank News for comment •

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