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A priority precinct

09 Apr 2019

A priority precinct Image

The Minister for Priority Precincts, Gavin Jennings, and Fishermans Bend Development Board chair, Meredith Sussex, have reinforced the government’s intentions for a world-class employment and innovation cluster in Fishermans Bend.

Speaking at a Committee for Economic Development Australia (CEDA) event on March 14, Unlocking Innovation and Jobs for Melbourne, Mr Jennings said the new priority precincts portfolio emphasised the importance his government was placing in areas such as Fishermans Bend.

While much of the discussion around Fishermans Bend to date has been based around planning the four community precincts of Montague, Sandridge, Lorimer and Wirraway, the Employment Precinct has largely gone under the public radar.

Moderated by AECOM’s director for cities Australia and New Zealand Tim O’Loan, who authored the 2018 report Transforming Fishermans Bend, the CEDA event discussed the growing importance of creating national employment and innovation clusters (NEICs).

Released in November last year, Mr O’Loan’s report made a number of recommendations in support of the state government’s plans for an NEIC in the Employment Precinct, as outlined in its recast vision for Fishermans Bend.

These included attracting leading domestic and international universities, focusing on the advanced industrial and manufacturing sector and investing in the precinct as a test bed location for emerging technologies. It also recommended to actively include the creative industries.

While the government has already made significant investments in the Employment Precinct, namely the purchasing of the General Motors Holden (GMH) site, the report also highlighted the importance of engaging with existing businesses to develop the NEIC.

Mr Jennings told the CEDA event that the NEIC in Fishermans Bend would bring together facets of a quality community and cultural life and infrastructure, which were all precursors to innovation and collaboration.

“This [priority precincts] is a very important concept beyond the precincts that I’m formally responsible for in the first instance,” he said. “Arden-Macauley, Fishermans Bend, Parkville and Richmond to Docklands are, in fact, the formal areas that I will be spending a majority of my focus in what I describe as trying to bring the alchemy together.”

“This is in terms of the national employment and innovation clusters, in terms of the value creation that we actually want to create in those precincts as the exemplar and the role models for how this can be applied with the university sector and the roll out of the suburban rail loop.”

Ms Sussex told the audience that the investment from the University of Melbourne in building its new engineering campus at the GMH site, as well as interest from other organisations, were encouraging signs for a NEIC in Fishermans Bend.

While she acknowledged that future development, both communally and commercially, hinged greatly on the delivery of key infrastructure such as Melbourne Metro 2, she said the NEIC concept itself was still being grappled with internationally.

“The notion is that if we bring people, who are smart people, together with a place and ways of making people and place collide and together with investment you get a whole different level of activity,” she said.

“We are really lucky in Fishermans Bend that we already have a strong base of innovative inventive industries that are driving innovation in day-to-day work. What we’re trying to do now is bring that together around the ‘place’ and particularly in the employment precinct.”

The Fishermans Bend Taskforce has started operations under the newly-created Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR) and will continue to work closely with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) on the remaining planning tasks, including assessment of development proposals and precinct implementation plans.

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