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Fishermans Bend planning update


The Fishermans Bend Review Panel ended its marathon hearings on Amendment GC81 on 22nd June – the longest running hearing in the history of Planning Panels in Victoria.

Amendment GC81 is the planning amendment and suite of planning controls that seek to give effect to the Vision for Fishermans Bend adopted in September 2016. The amendment applies to the precincts of Montague, Lorimer, Wirraway, Sandridge (not the Employment Precinct).

As soon as practicable but within 40 days, the Panel will produce a report for the Minister for Planning’s consideration.

Over the course of the hearings 376 documents were tabled. All submitters received a fair and courteous hearing from the endlessly patient Panel.

Landowners challenged the legitimacy of the amendment and the process.

The implications of the amendment for every potential development site were critiqued, explored and minutely analysed. Through the process the planning controls were put to the test and refined.

I’ve got an idea that you won’t be reading the Minister for Planning’s 77 page preliminary closing submission to the Panel in full so I have extracted some points from it. It responds to the many arguments put forward by landowners to the Review Panel as well as matters raised by other submitters.

The dot points below are direct quotes from the submission with the relevant paragraph number in brackets.

What is this amendment intended to achieve?

  • The purpose of the draft Amendment is simple: it is to ensure that, for the first time since Fishermans Bend was rezoned on 2 July 2012, the planning controls applicable to Fishermans Bend actually align with, and seek to deliver, outcomes that are consistent with the vision for Fishermans Bend as articulated in the Fishermans Bend Vision (September 2016) (‘the Vision’) (2)
  • The need to align the planning controls for Fishermans Bend with the established vision for the area provides a clear and compelling justification for the Amendment as a whole. (17)

On the likely trajectory under the planning controls currently in place

  • There is a disconnect between the current controls under which any permit is to be assessed and the outcomes actually sought for Fishermans Bend. There is a mismatch between what is sought – at a strategic level – for Fishermans Bend  and what the planning controls enable to be delivered (20)

Critique of the built form resulting from existing controls

  • It is the crudeness of the current mandatory maximum heights and tower setbacks which has generated the unfortunate monotony of the current applications which have been called in by the Minister.
  • A replication of the existing approvals is not the preferred character for Montague and a change to scale, typology and density in Montague North has been an important influence in adjusting the planning controls. To entrench the approved buildings as the preferred character would undermine the intent of the draft Amendment.
  • The legacy of the early era of controls should not be allowed to dictate its future.

The urban design principles on which Amendment GC81 is based are re-stated (67)

  • Concentration of height around public transport in the core
  • The need to step down to sensitive heritage protected residential areas to the south
  • The fine grain subdivision pattern in Montague South
  • The imperative to protect selected new and existing parks and civic boulevards from shadow
  • The opportunity presented by the non-sensitive interface to the freeway
  • The desire for differentiation in character and feel between and within precincts

Support for  ‘hybrid’ development outcomes in Fishermans Bend (not just towers on podiums)

  • There is strong support for hybrid development outcomes across Fishermans Bend as a legitimate alternative urban design alternative to the dominant podium tower form which has been produced by the controls to date. (64)
  • The virtue of the FAR (Floor Area Ratios), height and typology combination embodied in the draft Amendment is that the outcomes can be delivered on individual sites rather than relying on consolidation
  • Crafting the combination of typology, height and density was an investigative and iterative process which sought to achieve the outcomes sought. (80)

Mandatory solar protection of key open spaces affirmed

  • The Minister considers that solar access to the most important new parks and linear spaces should be protected by mandatory controls (94)
  • To ensure spaces are large enough to support a diverse range of activities and have strong solar protection to ensure year round useability and enjoyment (93)
  • The importance of solar access to highly utilised spaces in high density environments must not be overlooked. Spaces are expected to experience a high intensity of use, with many users vying for a patch of sunshine. (94a)
  • There is a real risk of incremental decision making which allows minor shadow increases on the basis of individual assessment, without appreciation of the cumulative impact of multiple minor incursions (94c)

Infrastructure Contributions Plan (ICP) to deliver open space in Fishermans Bend

A detailed rebuttal of the arguments put by landholders that the ICP should only apply in outer metropolitan areas can be found at paragraphs 95-123.

Clarification of Public Benefit

  • Floor area uplift will only be available for the delivery of social housing.

Concluding remarks

  • The short term thinking of those landowners which seek to achieve extreme densities and to avoid infrastructure contribution must be rejected. (254)
  • Fishermans Bend is too important to get wrong and too important to wait to get everything right to a standard of perfection. (255)


Document 350: Part C Submission on behalf of the Minister for Planning 

Document 374: Part D Submission (on behalf of the Minister for Planning)

Fishermans Bend Review Panel – link to all documents


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