Port Phillip council seeks community input into South Melbourne structure plan

Port Phillip council seeks community input into South Melbourne structure plan
Brendan Rees

The City of Port Phillip has taken the next step in preparing a structure plan for South Melbourne that will support the future development and growth of the area for the next two decades.

A discussion paper for the structure plan, which was endorsed by councillors at their August 17 meeting, will see a second round of stakeholder and community engagement get under way.

The structure plan will be an integrated planning framework to guide change in South Melbourne, addressing critical issues like employment and economic recovery, built form, housing, public realm improvements and accessibility and movement as well as tackling challenges like climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and current state government policies.

In addition, a new structure plan, “which sets the scene” for what the council wanted the area to look like in 20 years, was needed to deliver improved development outcomes and to reflect current and emerging community values, demographic and economic change, and landowner aspirations, according to the council.

The current South Melbourne Central Structure Plan and South Melbourne Central Urban Design Framework were adopted by the council in 2005, with planning controls implemented in 2008, however, since that time demographic and land use changes have occurred throughout South Melbourne and development pressure has increased.

“This document has a lot of initiatives that address concerns around South Melbourne as well as highlighting some of its strengths. I think this area has a lot of potential and has always been a well-liked area in our municipality so it’s good to see it’s getting its rightful attention,” Cr Heather Cunsolo told the council meeting.

Among the ideas pitched in the discussion paper – which are linked to key directions of quality buildings, quality places, and quality experiences – include options for new parks, maximising tree canopy, embracing creative industries, integrated public housing initiatives, flood-responsive development, expanding the South Melbourne economy, and protecting heritage character.

The South Melbourne Structure Plan will be informed by the South Melbourne Place Plan that was prepared in 2018 and 2019 to guide placemaking initiatives in South Melbourne, covering Clarendon St and the areas around the South Melbourne Market and Emerald Hill.

The discussion paper will build on the first phase of public engagement undertaken in March-April 2021. Community feedback on the draft structure plan is expected to take place in the second half of 2023.

The first round of community consultation found the closeness of the CBD and the beach, easy access to green and open spaces, a sense of community, which is diverse and friendly; and the South Melbourne Market were what people valued most.

The community will be able to have their say on the discussion paper over a four-week period in August-September with their feedback focussing on the paper’s vision, key directions, and series of ideas.

It will see pop-up events held in South Melbourne and targeted stakeholder workshops including with council-facilitated advisory committees/groups.

The council’s Have Your Say online engagement platform will host a survey and other engagement activities based on the discussion paper’s content. Hard copy surveys will be available. •

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