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A pricey new public park

10 Dec 2015

A pricey new public park Image

The State Government has made a significant move in its promise to deliver more community infrastructure for Fishermans Bend, with a $19 million purchase for a public park.

The new one-acre Montague Precinct park will be located only a stone’s throw away from Southbank at 2-4 Buckhurst St in South Melbourne.

The park’s site is located directly opposite the site of the future vertical primary school at Ferrars St in Southbank, in what comes as the first major allocation of public open space for the urban renewal area.

Planning Minister Richard Wynne said that, while it was disappointing that Victorians would be lumped with a $19 million bill, it could have come at a third of the price under the previous government.

Mr Wynne said former planning minister Matthew Guy’s rezoning of Fishermans Bend had meant his government had been forced to buy the land from coffee entrepreneur Pitzy Folk, who had proposed two apartment towers for the site.

“Matthew Guy botched Fishermans Bend. He ignored expert advice and failed to plan for the 80,000 people who will live there by not giving enough thought to building healthy places for them to live in.”

“Parks are invaluable and each new park is an extra lung for the city, as well as helping people live healthier lives.”

“We want it to be a place where people can have some grass to kick a footy, have a barbecue and meet with friends.”

The City of Port Phillip has also contributed $6.3 million to the purchase, and Mayor-elect Bernadene Voss reassured local residents that it would come at no expense to the community.  

“The $6.3 million contribution from Port Phillip is not using existing ratepayers money. It will be funded using Fishermans Bend Developer Contributions Funds (DCP) for open space contribution,” she said.

“These funds are specifically ring-fenced so that existing ratepayers are not funding the Fishermans Bend development.”

“This is the start of the precinct rollout of Australia’s biggest urban renewal project and we want to work closely with the Government to help set the standard for vibrancy and liveability.”

Mayor Voss said the new park would be grassed in time for the opening of South Melbourne Primary School in 2018 and that council would engage with its community about ideas for the park.

South Port Urban Responsible Renewable Authority (SPURR) spokesperson Rowan Groves said, while the acquisition of the new park was great news, it was a “drop in the ocean” for what was needed.

“The Government has paid too much for what is only the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “We’re concerned about issues of overuse and it could become degraded as a result.”

“At the moment, the political reality is that the Montague Precinct is simply still seen as a continuation of Southbank.”

The news comes after SPURR held its fourth general meeting on November 19, which was attended by members of the Fishermans Bend Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC), including the committee’s chair Meredith Sussex.

Mr Groves said the more than 20 attendees unanimously agreed that the planning process for the area needed to slow down in order for the community to adequately assist the MAC in creating a renewed vision.

He said education and public transport were also key focal points discussed at the meeting.

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