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Waterfront woes deepen

06 Nov 2019

Waterfront woes deepen Image

The developer on the receiving end of an online petition relating to his property at 1-7 Waterfront Place in Beacon Cove has described the treatment against him as an “absolute disgrace.”

It comes after local residents, supported by the City of Port Phillip, circulated a petition via change.org last month calling for developer Action Group Australia to demolish its long-vacant property at 1-7 Waterfront Place at Beacon Cove.

City of Port Phillip Mayor Dick Gross drew further attention to the petition last month by appearing on Channel Nine News, while Gateway Ward councillor Bernadene Voss also shared the petition online.

Director of Action Group Australia Andrew Nehme told Southbank Local News that the petition, which shares his email address and mobile phone number, was an unacceptable invasion of privacy.

“It’s an absolute disgrace,” Mr Nehme said. “It’s a form of bullying which is unacceptable and it’s an invasion of privacy. It’s a disgrace to me and my family. This is why the development is in its 13th year and nothing is happening.”

“Who’s behind all of this? The council. Who has stopped this, year in, year out? The council controls the covenant. There is a covenant there that says you can’t demolish the building. I don’t think the council understands their own planning controls.”

Action Group Australia’s current application for the site, which it has owned for the past 13 years, proposes a 10-storey mixed-use development, which Mr Nehme said was consistent with planning controls for the site.

The application was bound for the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) but was recently called in by the Minister for Planning Richard Wynne. Mr Nehme said it would be the second time in 13 years that the site would go before an independent advisory panel.

“We want to develop something good there,” he said. “So, let us build something there.”

The news follows an article in the July 2019 edition of Southbank Local News, where the Beacon Cove Neighbourhood Association (BCNA) called on all levels of government to find a solution to regenerating the struggling precinct.

Home to Station Pier and the 109 tram station, which feeds directly through Southbank, the precinct is the first point of contact with our city for more than 700,000 passengers who travel through it each year.

While conversations continue between state government, the City of Port Phillip and the Victorian Port Corporation (Melbourne) (VPCM) on master planning for precinct, locals say the abandoned property at 1-7 Waterfront Place is holding progress back.

“For far too long the Port Melbourne community has had to suffer the eyesore at 1-7 Waterfront Place,” a statement on the online petition said. “No amount of work or goodwill from the long-suffering traders, Station Pier operations, council and the arriving tourists into Melbourne can cover up or pretty over this fact.”

“It has been a burnt-out, rat-infested, graffiti-ridden derelict building following the fire in September 2014 in one of the busiest and key entrances and arrival points to Victoria.”

“Enough is enough … let‘s call on the owner to demolish this derelict site. It is not good enough that property owners can possibly think this is responsible behaviour or satisfactory ownership to leave a site in this condition.”

The state government announced back in September 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.

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