Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What's in a name and does it matter?

There's a bit of confusion over terminology. The name Fishermans Bend itself has been the subject of debate over the years. Fisherman or Fishermen? Allan Meiers, in his book Fisherfolk of Fishermans Bend offers this definition: 'Fishermans Bend: A term used by Sandridge Council to designate all the land bounded by the seashore at Hobsons Bay, the northermost bend of the Yarra River and Boundary St which divides South Melbourne and Port Melbourne'(piv) The Register of Geographic Names VICNAMES has it definitively registered as Fishermans Bend with some interesting historical information about the fishermen who lived there in the early days. Even this apparently neutral entry is a red rag to Port Melbourne as Fishermans Bend is listed as being in the municipality of Melbourne.
The Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, has thrown a bit of confusion into local minds by the designation and delineation of the Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Area - beginning to be known as FBURA. As understood locally, Fishermans Bend also covers some of the established residential areas of Port Melbourne including the Fishermans Bend estate - yet they are clearly not contemplated to be part of the FBURA. To add to the confusion, Montague is included within the FBURA. Speak to any person who grew up in Montague and they will be fierce in defense of its being a place in its own right - never having been part of Port Melbourne. While Montague was in South Melbourne's jurisdiction, it was most definitely first and foremost Montague.
Where it does begin to matter is when it if put forward as a design rationale for a development.
Thanks to Urban Melbourne for giving the opportunity to look at the  proposal for 132-134 Ferrars St in some detail. The amazing visualisation technology available today even shows the retained street trees in Thistlethwaite St. The architects, Rothe Lowman*, say that the major driver for the design was the early name for South Melbourne, Emerald Hill.
That inspiration is quite misconceived and suggests a lack of understanding of the historical and geographical context of the site.  Every single description of Montague calls up its relationship to the Yarra River as does the planning report. The proximity to the river drives the above ground carparking, and the anticipated sea level rise.  Montague was always prone to flooding, many of its residents worked on South Wharf - Montague was definitely a river place.  Emerald Hill, by contrast and and by definition was a hill. In those days (and perhaps in the future too), those topographical distinctions really mattered.
And is it just me? I thought emeralds were green, not purple but I wouldn't know since I've never owned one.
Sources and further information
The Fisherfolk of Fishermans Bend is available from the Port Melbourne Town Hall Assist counter or directly from the Port Melbourne Historical and Preservation Society.
*also architects for Aqueous apartments in Nott St, Port Melbourne

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Proposal for 134 - 142 Ferrars St fails the test, 1

134 - Ferrars St, cnr Ferrars and Thistlethwaite St, Montague
Not unexpectedly, the Port Phillip Council did not support the proposal for a 49 storey development at 134 - 142 Ferrars St, and has asked the Minister for Planning to refuse the application.
Not unexpected because the proposal failed the Council's assessment on a range of tests - most importantly that it greatly exceeded the height and scale preferred in the Council's adopted Montague Structure Plan. The environmental performance of the proposal was not considered adequate.
The proposal was assessed against the Montague Structure Plan in the absence of a plan for the Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Area (FBURA). There is also no development contribution plan in place. The planning report recommended that no permit should be granted until such a plan is in place and added that 'this is preferable than piecemeal agreements between the Minster for Planning and developers, which may result in ad-hoc, uncoordinated and inconsistent works within the FBURA.'
Port Phillip Council's adopted Precinct Structure Plan is sensitive to the fine grain of the Montague precinct - of which more in future posts on Port Places.

Never has there been such wholehearted support for urban renewal as in the Montague area - it is the scale, integration and coherence of the precinct that is the issue.
Minister Guy told the Herald Sun on Wednesday 24th April that "We are deeply worried about liveability in some of our outer urban areas in places that we've inherited, which had no infrastructure upgrades for a decade or so"
Observers are equally concerned that liveability is created in the FBURA. Liveability is not an artifact in itself, but the product of a range of attributes. Considering one application in isolation when there are another 21* apparently in the pipeline in the absence of any plan for development contribution, cumulative impact, community facilities and streetscape improvements does not give confidence that liveability is being created here.
*Marc Pallisco The Age 27 April 2013

Friday, April 26, 2013

125-133 Thistlethwaite Street

The property, zoned Capital City Zone (CCZ1), was sold on the 24 April for $4.2m.
Lemon Baxter described the property as representing "an unprecedented future high rise development opportunity. Similar sites within the area are proposing applications for high rise of between 21-50 Levels (STPA)."

As reported by Marc Pallisco in The Age on April 20, 2013 the "Thistlethwaite Street site is the first offered for auction in Montague since last year's Capital City 1 rezoning. The agents expect $4m which would reflect a land rate of about $3,300 a square metre. Before the rezone, the rate per square metre of land was about $2,000."

Sunday, April 21, 2013


I am first and foremost a Port (Melbourne) person.

I heard that massive change is ahead at Montague. So I thought I'd cross the border from Port and get to know the place - as it is now, and as it was in the near and more distant past.
My journey begins at Boundary St - the former border between Port and Montague.

I'll keep you posted on my travels, and also on any planning news I read along the way.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Fishermans Bend in the news, 1

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle wants the City of Melbourne to take planning control of the Fishermans Bend area, according to an article in today's Age.