Are the people of Victoria getting the community they deserve at Fishermans Bend?
This development, which the Victorian Government claims is “Australia’s most significant urban renewal project”, will one day be home to 80,000 people.
Those future residents have a right to ask the Napthine Government to explain what they are buying into – especially as decisions being made now about the master plan will have consequences for decades.
Will this new community be safe, walkable, and close to schools, shops and other services, or will people need to get in the car to buy a carton of milk? Will this new community be affordable, with a mix of housing types and price points so that it is more than an enclave for the elite or a dormitory for students? Will there be well-designed and well-connected public transport options, or will people be stuck in perpetual gridlock?
Will there be local employment and education opportunities, or will it be a ghost town during the day? Will it incorporate green spaces and promote healthy and active living, or should people prepare to live in a concrete jungle?
Will people be able to afford to live comfortably through Melbourne’s searing heatwaves and its winter chills, or will they be punished each time they open their utility bills? Will this community be a place that people want to live both now and in 40 years’ time? Or are we being short-changed due to laziness and a lack of vision?
Australia has nationally accepted principles that ensure new community developments are great places for people – and applying them doesn’t need to cost any more than business-as-usual.
To those who are quick to point out that we have ‘an interest’ in whether projects use the Green Star – Communities tool, I’d say “of course we do – we developed it.” But we’re a not-for-profit organisation and our ‘interest’ is in achieving better places for everyone.
In other parts of the country – such as at the $6 billion Barangaroo development in Sydney, Adelaide’s Bowden Village, Perth’s Waterbank or the Caloundra South project in Queensland which will be home to 120,000 people – these principles are being embraced, and Green Star ratings will provide positive proof that these communities are sustainable.
The same can’t be said for Fishermans Bend. How will you know that this community – one which will double the size of the Melbourne CBD – will meet your needs beyond the next election cycle?