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Movement at Waterfront Place

08 Sep 2020

Movement at Waterfront Place Image

By Sean Car

The owner of a site at the centre of an ongoing bureaucratic saga has submitted a new planning application to the City of Port Phillip for a mixed-use 10-storey development.

While the height, compliant with planning rules, and proximity to nearby Station Pier will no doubt undergo further scrutiny, developer Action Group Australia could be edging towards a long-awaited finale at its 1-7 Waterfront Place site in Beacon Cove.

The application includes 126 dwellings, incorporating a mixture of townhouses and apartments of varied one to four bedrooms, 732 sqm of retail space, 1170 sqm of gym and wellness space, community workspaces/meeting rooms, a public toilet and arts studios.

Action Group Australia director Andrew Nehme said the submission of the application followed extensive consultation with community and government stakeholders over the past four months.

Mr Nehme said that the development had a strong emphasis on providing “community benefit” and much-needed activation of the broader precinct, and included “significant” areas of open space such as public laneways and courtyard spaces.

Having consulted with the likes of the Beacon Cove Neighbourhood Association (BCNA) and the City of Port Phillip, he said he was hopeful of finally delivering a positive outcome for the site, which his company has owned for 14 years.

While the application is currently before the City of Port Phillip for consideration, the BCNA is expected to facilitate a community webinar between the developer and its members in the near future.

Formerly home to a community centre incorporating a gym and childcare centre, the site has been marred by controversy having long sat idle under restrictive covenants which apply to the land.

Following a fire which broke out at the site in 2014, the developer would eventually submit a 10-storey application in 2017, which was knocked back by the City of Port Phillip due largely to concerns regarding overshadowing and scale.

This application was later called in by Minister for Planning Richard Wynne in 2018 after the developer took the matter to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) and the submission of its revised application last month marks the latest chapter in the story.

While the proposal is compliant with Port Phillip Planning Scheme amendment C104, local residents have long argued that the planning controls for the site aren’t consistent with the low-rise nature of the surrounding precinct.

The operator of Station Pier – the Victorian Ports Corporation (Melbourne) (VPCM) – have also previously expressed concerns regarding the proximity of residential development to its operations.

The BCNA continues to prosecute the case for a master plan for the struggling precinct and the demise of the cruise ship industry, in conjunction with the Spirit of Tasmania’s move to Geelong, has heightened calls from locals for the government to revisit the issue.

The state government announced in September 2019 that it was providing $50,000 to help the City of Port Phillip develop a precinct plan for the redevelopment of Waterfront Place and Station Pier.

The VPCM also received $5.8 million in the 2018-19 state budget for planning and design for the Station Pier Redevelopment Project, as well as to provide minor upgrades to improve passenger experience.

While she wasn’t in a position to comment on the live planning application at 1-7 Waterfront Place, VPCM CEO Rachel Johnson said it was looking forward to investigating a range of options for the Station Pier precinct.

“This pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on many businesses and industries, including the cruise ship industry,” she said.

“We have accelerated our maintenance program to make the most of the slowdown and ensure Station Pier is ready when the industry rebounds.” •

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