THE Victorian Government said it is taking urgent action to protect the future of Fishermans Bend from inappropriate development, with Planning Minister Richard Wynne last week calling in 26 development applications for the precinct.
According to the Minister, the 26 applications will be referred to an independent advisory committee for thorough analysis and will not be approved "unless they have the community's interests at heart."
Currently, 11 of the 26 applications are before VCAT and, if approved, would create densities three times that of Southbank. All 26 applications were lodged after the land was rezoned to Capital City Zone by former Coalition Planning Minister Matthew Guy.
"Matthew Guy gave a big pay day to developers but didn't give a second's thought to the facilities that families need. Thanks to his mess, Victorians are having to pay more than a billion dollars for land for parks and community facilities that make great neighbourhoods," Mr Wynne said in a statement.
"The Labor Government is righting Mr Guy's wrongs at Fishermans Bend, ensuring Australia's largest urban renewal project creates a neighbourhood families can be proud of – and not just a windfall for lucky landowners."
The announcement was welcomed by the Australian Institute of Architects, which described the Minister's call ins as a necessary step to ensure the development of the precinct best serves community outcomes.
Incoming Victorian Chapter President Amy Muir said the State Government had made the right decision for the long-term sustainable development of the area.
"The rezoning of Fishermans Bend prior to the implementation of planning controls or a holistic masterplan set a dangerous precedent for providing imbalanced developments and ill-conceived built environments leading to long-term detrimental effects upon immediate and surrounding communities," Ms Muir said.
"Moving forward we strongly support and recommend the engagement of a design review panel represented by the Australian Institute of Architects, the Planning Institute of Australia, the Urban Design Institute of Australia and the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects.
"The Institute supports a rigorous consultation process with experts in the field in order to provide balanced design advice from an urban planning, urban form and landscape perspective.
"We are very aware of the commercial endeavours that these projects hold. However we also understand that there needs to be a balance between commercial intent and the quality of the design outcome.
"Building communities is a complex undertaking and it requires a sensitive and a rigorous design consultation process from the very beginning."
Fishermans Bend covers approximately 485 hectares to the south-west of Melbourne's CBD and consists of five linked precincts: Montague, Lorimer, Sandridge, Wirraway and Employment Precinct. By 2050, the area is expected to accommodate 80,000 residents and 80,000 employees.
Since its election in 2014, the State Labor Government has sought to re-shape plans for Fishermans Bend, with a recast of the Fishermans Bend Vision launched in 2016 and a draft Fishermans Bend Framework released last year.
The draft Framework was developed by the Fishermans Bend Taskforce as a long term strategic plan for the development of Fishermans Bend to 2050. It will guide investment and development by the State Government, local government and the private sector.