Station Pier has been the “gateway to Victoria” for over 150 years – millions of Australians have passed through its environs over that time – many as new settlers – and it is part of the historical and cultural fabric of this nation. Today the area remains a thriving port, accessed by more than a million people every year arriving and leaving by Cruise Ships and the Tasmanian Ferries. It is also a prime recreation area of the Melbourne community who come to swim, jog, cycle, walk, sail, go to the restaurants or simply sit and enjoy the view of the bay. Read more The City of Port Phillip Council (“CoPP”) has just passed Amendment C104 against strong community opposition. If approved by the Minister for Planning this will change the zoning from CDZ1 commercial to MRZ, and cause the welcoming view of the Melbourne skyline to be masked by 10-storey residential apartment blocks built on Waterfront Place – right in front of Station Pier. In addition, the amendment allows the overshadowing of the Port Melbourne Beach, bike and pedestrian paths for up to 6 months of the year. A Kuwaiti-owned company, Action Group Australia (AGA), submitted plans in 2012 to CoPP for 20-storey (71 m) tower. Read more However, covenants currently apply to the Waterfront Place site that prevents CoPP and the intending Kuwaiti developer from proceeding with their plans. They ensure that any development on the site retains low-rise height limits and that the design incorporates commercially-operated recreational facilities (such as the original gym, tennis courts, swimming pool and childcare centre) for the use of all Melbournians who wish to use them. The current owner of this site has lodged applications with the Supreme Court of Victoria and VCAT to overturn the covenants, and has lodged applications with the City of Port Phillip Council (CoPP) for approval of a 20-storey (71 m) residential tower. Read more If any multi-storey development happens it will cause chaos to traffic flows through the area, prevent parking by visitors, and deny comfortable access to the millions who seek to use the area for travel or recreation. Traffic at the roundabout leading to Station Pier and the corner of Beach and Bay Streets is already chaotic when the Spirit of Tasmania loads and unloads and when large cruise ships visit. The proposed 20-storey development by AGA will add 431 extra car spaces with access right at the point where the worst traffic jams occur, and visitors to the towers will make the parking situation in the area even worse. Read more
Community Groups have already said “No” to replacing recreational facilities with multi-storey residential towers at Waterfront Place. A 1,250 signatory petition was presented to the Victorian Parliament on March 15 2012 by the Beacon Cove Neighbourhood Association (BCNA) and also to CoPP but CoPP has ignored it. CoPP summarised the community responses to the redevelopment of Waterfront Place in its 2012 Community Consultation Report and subsequent reports but Amendment C104 ignores community feedback and allows taller buildings than the community wants and has no requirement for equivalent community facilities. Local politicians have previously said “No” to multi-storey development at Waterfront Place. Our current Federal Member, Michael Danby MHR, said recently in both a speech to parliament and by letter to local residents that “This area was always planned to be low-rise“. Our current State Member, Martin Foley, said in 2012 Waterfront Place must remain open and accessible and in 2013 “Keeping this Gateway open and protecting the low rise vistas back towards Melbourne from Station Pier, keeping the community focus on the site and not adding to the ports logistic problems for loadings at the spirit of Tasmania, should be our priorities“. Andrea Coote opposes towers on the site. The previous CoPP council backed down on its 2011 plan to put towers on the Waterfront Place site after community backlash. In 2012 ex councillor John Middleton and current councillors Serge Thomann and Jane Touzeau, put forward a motion “proposing a commitment by CoPP to the existing three-storey covenant“. This commitment was reiterated as part of the unChain platform for the 2012 council elections but has somehow been ignored by CoPP planning staff and has been subsequently overlooked by unChain councillors.
Keep Station Pier Port Operating as a Working Port
An environmental overlay exists on the Waterfront Place leisure centre site to ensure that residential accommodation is not built on the site. Building residential towers will result in “…an increase in the number of people affected by noise and … exposure to risk to health or life arising from port operations.” This overlay must be enforced, as once new residents experience the noise and fumes from ships and freight operations, they will lobby to reduce Station Pier operations. The Port of Melbourne Corporation is opposed to residential development on Waterfront Place.
Prevent Overshadowing and Wind Tunnels at Heritage Station Area
Once one high tower development has been approved in the low rise area of Beacon Cove, a precedent will have been set and other nearby sites such as the Beacon Cove food store, will then be targets for other residential towers. This will overwhelm the heritage feel of the old Port Melbourne railway station and the area will start to resemble the windswept wastelands of Docklands.
Where’s the Town Planning?The area near Station Pier was designed to offer a food store, sporting and medical facilities and restaurants. The proposed CoPP draft design guidelines (schedule 23) for 1-7 Waterfront Place and the Port Melbourne Waterfront Urban Design Framework 2013 give no commitments to ensure that these amenities are to be retained or increased to allow for the increasing population in the area, instead allowing them to be replaced by residential towers. Good town planning should focus on the needs of the community rather than the profits of developers.