Matthew Guy was chatting on the Herald Sun website today. I am not sure exactly what the deal is, but Matthew Guy has linked directly to the Herald Sun homepage a couple of times recently (rather than specific articles). Anyway, today the topic was his hit-list of Melbourne eyesores and it just so happens that there were some links with where I live and the council meeting I was at last night.
Early on in the discussion (at 2.10 and 2.12pm according to the Herald Sun website), Matthew Guy suggested, ‘Amcor in Alphington. Big site, ripe for renewal.’ and ‘Fisherman’s Bend, south of the freeway and north of Williamstown Road – another place ripe for development.’ While only Fisherman’s Bend is really of relevance to my project, I live relatively near the Amcor site and so have seen the odd discussion of the impending sale and redevelopment.
The Amcor site is not infrequently in my local paper because of pollution issues, the odd fire, and talk about what sort of housing development will be approved on the site. The redevelopment is very much just a matter of ‘when’.
Fisherman’s Bend (or Fishermans Bend as the City of Port Phillip usually writes) is a very different issue. Early in my fieldwork, City of Port Phillip put forward a ‘Planning and Economic Development Strategy’. For the Port Melbourne precinct, this envisioned ‘the future of the area as a dynamic, inner-city business precinct supporting intensive, high value-adding industrial activities and characterised by the highest levels of environmental sustainability, amenity and innovation.’ In other words, according to the City of Port Phillip, Fishermans Bend in Port Melbourne is an important industrial area. To add in some antidotal evidence, I have friends and family who work there, and just the other day the Premier associated himself with the announcement of 300 new jobs in the precinct.
Of course, nobody said redeveloping Fishermans Bend (where I am guessing much of the currently used land is owned privately by a multitude of parties) is analogous to the change in use of the Amcor site. Nor would I think that anybody would suggest employment needs to leave Melbourne in order for us to erect more apartment towers. However, at least under current zoning practices, a decision will be made about what this particular land will be used for.
To complicate things further, ‘Fisherman’s Bend’ (as the Minister seems to see it) is not only in Port Melbourne. Part of the area is in South Melbourne and is referred to as ‘Montague’. This area has been seen by the City of Port Phillip as suitable for immanent rezoning as a residential area (although there will be issues around contamination etc). Quite a lot of work, including consultation, has been undertaken by the City of Port Phillip to this end. Judging by the report at last night’s council meeting, it seems like Places Victoria is likely to adopt the City of Port Phillip position on focusing on Montague first.
My field site has been the residential side of Port Melbourne, so largely on the opposite side of Williamstown Road to Fishermans Bend. This means I have very little understanding of what Minister Guy’s plans might mean for the industrial precinct itself and the people who work there. However, I know that many Port Melbourne residents (including Port People) are already calling for the impact of rezoning to be anticipated and planned for. I think they will be pleased that, in response to Cr. Janet Bolitho’s question regarding whether it is too early for consideration of how development in the area would relater to ‘existing Port Melbourne’ or for the community to be aware, the council officer replied, ‘It is never too early to have that discussion.’
Maybe there’s a post doc in that?