Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Area (FBURA)

by Gerry McLoughlin, Architect, Urban Designer and Secretary of IMPA

Image Courtesy of the City of Port Phillip

Image Courtesy of the City of Port Phillip

The Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Draft Vision document was released on 16 September 2013.  It sets out a vision to guide a 50 year plan for the Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Area which, along with the Government’s PLAN MELBOURNE strategy, sets a framework for significant change for inner Melbourne  to meet its projected population growth and future economic objectives. 

It is anticipated that Fishermans Bend will contribute a community of 80,000 people to Melbourne’s projected population of 8 million by 2050 and 40,000 jobs.

As Australia’s largest single urban renewal project, Fishermans Bend will define the nature and character of future inner Melbourne, and have many more immediate impacts on the amenity and urban environment of the surrounding communities.

Image courtesy of The Age ("Goodman in Height Lift on the Bend"  - 23/10/2013)

Image courtesy of The Age ("Goodman in Height Lift on the Bend"  - 23/10/2013)

The FBURA proposal has been reviewed by IMPA and a summary of this review is organised under the following topics:

1. The Vision.

2. Planning Context.

3. History of Events.

4. Policy Context.

5. Related Changes.

6. Resources.

7. Contacts.



The Minister for Planning Matthew Guy has made public commitment to  “a livable, sustainable, diverse and vibrant city” for the future of inner Melbourne.

Whilst we question the extent of “towers above mid-size podiums” over about one third of the area of FBURA, in terms of its stated ideals its aspirations and strategic interventions, we have found very little to directly disagree with.

There is much in the Vision to support: 

  • the proposed green civic spine along Plummer Street
  • integrated transport including a Yarra River tram bridge linking with Collins Street Tram networks, two metro underground train stations, bike and pedestrian linkages and connecting up two existing tram routes of Park St to complete the ‘loop’
  • lower density housing proposed along the interfaces with Port Melbourne
  • extending Melbourne Parks to the Bay
  • new Boulevards along Williamstown Road, Lorimar Street and Plummer Street
  • protection of land for future station and street networks

We note though, that this Vision is so far

  • entirely unfunded,
  • yet to be articulated in a Structure Plan or Planning Amendment ,
  • lacking any implementation plan,
  • And without any indication that its eventual realization will not just be left to the imagination of the developers themselves.

Our concern is not with the content of the vision itself, but the disparity between the vision as stated and the actual planning outcomes the Government has delivered so far.  

All show a clear tendency:

  • to allow skyscraper development without apparent planning justification;
  • to let developer-defined market forces largely dictate planning outcomes,
  • to exclude the public from meaningful or constructive early engagement in the planning processes.

The process has been conducted within Government.. The inclusion of City of Port Phillip and City of Melbourne Councillors and staff has been the only form of community consultation undertaken in the formative stages. 

Amanda Stevens, Mayor of City of Port Phillip in her CEDA Presentation, 28 February2014 stated that a priority infrastructure project for City of Port Phillip is the Collins Street to Plummer’s Street Tram connection project.  Kathy Alexander CEO of the City of Melbourne in her presentation at the same event concentrated on ‘liveability’ as the highest urban and economic issue for the central city’s future.

Our aim is to

  • Pursue the Vision as broadly stated, and hold the Minister to his word,

  • offer constructive suggestions as to how this might be better achieved.



The Fishermans Bend urban renewal scheme is directly impacted by two other broader State Government planning programs:

  • the newly established Capital City Zone encompasses most of Melbourne’s inner ring of older industrial suburbs and is largely directed at their future transformation into new high density residential and commercial precincts.  (Under this zone, the Minister for Planning becomes the responsible Authority for all developments over 4 storeys )
  • the $1.6b expansion of Webb Dock which will generate a substantial increase in entirely road-based freight transport with implications already seen in the planning for the Westgate Freeway and the East-West Link road tunnel (together, these will  condemn Melbourne to a road based - rather than rail-based transport future).

Another key document of relevance the transport infrastructure agenda affecting Inner Melbourne and more directly FBURA is, VICTORIA: The Freight State and LINKING MELBOURNE, which inform the redevelopment of the Port of Melbourne and the interconnection of the freeway networks to service freight particularly coming out of the redeveloped Port of Melbourne. 

There are three draft documents that directly relate to Fishermans Bend: 

  • The Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Area Draft Vision, released 16 Sept 2013
  • The Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Area Interim Design Guidelines, 16 Sept 2013 (a set of associated planning provisions to operate whilst the FB structure plan is being prepared)
  • PLAN Melbourne metropolitan planning strategy for the whole of Melbourne, released 13 Oct 2013 (released after, rather than before the Fishermans Bend Vision document).

The development of the two Fishermans Bend documents is the result of a year-long process led by Places Victoria and the Planning Minister in collaboration with the Melbourne City Council and the City of Port Phillip.  

A further influence on the Vision may have been the Montague Area Structure Plan, an excellent, fully detailed plan commissioned by the City of Port Phillip for the future redevelopment of the Montague area, which was rendered redundant when the Minister rezoned the area July 2012.

The FBURA Vision document (and the Interim Guidelines) public consultation submissions closed Friday 22 November2013


2 July 2012 Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, rezoned Fishermans Bend Expanded Capital City and appointed himself as the Responsible Authority for development over 2000 sqm

Sept 2012   Montague Plan was released by City of Port Phillip

Nov 2012    Metropolitan Planning Strategy Discussion Paper Let’s Talk about it was released for community comment by Minister Guy

Mar 2013   Places Victoria charged with the task of shaping the FBURA VISION document – process not open to the community in any way.  Representatives from City of Port Phillip and City of Melbourne were included in the discussions

7 Jul 2013   CAPP FBURA Community FORUM (Panel of 7 key note speakers moderated by Peter Mares) – 230 people attended – the community had no input to any Government processes in shaping the future of FBURA<>

July 2013    Minister launched the new Commercial and Residential Zones – the intention was to simplify and make easy for development – Glen Eira Council were the first Council to have their Planning Scheme adapted to the new zones gazetted / other Councils have to July 2014 to redo their Planning Schemes.


16 Sep 2013 Fishermans Bend VISION and INTERIM GUIDELIINES were released by Minister Guy, Cr Bernadine Voss and Mayor Robert Doyle

 Sept 2013 WEBB DOCK $1.6 billion upgrade TENDER closed. Construction period 2014-16

6 Oct 2013      PLAN MELBOURNE was released

20 Dec 2013 Metropolitan Planning Authority(MPA) announced a restructure into six teams including Inner Melbourne to be headed up newly appointed Director, Jane Monk to implement PLAN Melbourne and Urban Renewal site within Inner Melbourne


On 5 July 2012, the Minister for Planning rezoned 240 hectares of Fishermans Bend to the Capital City Zone via a Ministerial Amendment (Amendment C102). FBURA has also been declared a project of State Significance under the Planning and Environment Act and the Minister is the appointed statutory authority. A Ministerial Amendment does not require notification of owners and occupiers as in the normal amendment process.

FBURA has four precincts – Montague, Wirraway, Sandridge (City of Port Phillip) and Lorimer (City of Melbourne).

The proposed Planning Amendment applies the Capital City Zone (CCZ) to land previously zoned Business 3 Zone, Industrial 1 Zone and Industrial 3 Zone within Fishermans Bend in Port Melbourne and South Melbourne, and land zoned Mixed Use Zone at 400 City Road (see map below).

Key elements of the amendment are:

  • Makes the Minister for Planning the responsible authority for administering the Fishermans Bend area for development proposals over a certain threshold.
  • Rezones the land within the Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Area to the Capital City Zone (CCZ1) excluding existing areas in public ownership.
  • Removes Design and Development Overlays from the land within the Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Area.
  • Introduces a new Development Contributions Plan Overlay to the Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Area.
  • Introduce the Parking Overlay and associated schedule to the overlay for the Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Area.
  • Introduces a new Local Planning Policy Clause 22.10– Urban Design within Fishermans Bend.
  • Updates the Local Planning Policy to reflect the changes to strategic direction.

The Minister for Planning becomes the Responsible Authority for planning permit applications which are more than four storeys, more than 60 dwellings, over 10,000 square metres in floorspace or have a development value of more than $10 million

This means that the Minister for Planning will approve most of the large developments in Fishermans Bend (and in the Montague Precinct.)

Metropolitan Planning Authority

The recently formed Metropolitan Planning Authority (MPA) is responsible for the implementation of ‘Plan Melbourne’ and urban renewal areas identified across metropolitan Melbourne. The MPA has responsibility through the Minister for Planning to coordinate the preparation of a Strategic Framework Plan for the FBURA. 

The MPA is formed out of the existing Growth Area Authority (GAA) however recently it has undergone an organisational restructure to deliver on its expanded role and focus on implementation of PLAN Melbourne.

The new organisation includes six teams Inner City, South and East, North and West, Economic Planning and Development, Technical Services and Intergovernmental Co ordinations

The  Inner City team is headed up by MPA’s  newest director Jane Monk, to concentrate on inner city councils implementing key items listed in Plan Melbourne including FBURA.


a)  MPS – Let’s Talk about it and PLAN MELBOURNE document

FBURA Vision is a 50 year vision and Plan Melbourne is a complete rethink about Melbourne to 2050 with a substantially increased expanded Capital City Zone taking in all of FBURA, Egate, Dockland, Southbank, North Carlton, Arden Macaulay and various other sites such as Collingwood, Cremorne etc.

Critical to the future of Melbourne is the status of the FBURA Vision document in the context of the  hard committed projects and programs such as the $1.6 b  WEBB DOCK Upgrade development and the East West Link Tunnel, which are government committed and which create direct conflicts with the FBURA Vision.

b) The Webb Dock $1.6 billion Upgrade Project: expansion of Webb Dock, which will generate a 2 million extra freight journey by 2050 for entirely road-based freight.  This project’s tender process has closed and construction is expected to commence in 2014 and will be completed by 2016.  This process is subject to commercial in confidence so information is limited however some information can be gleamed for the Victoria: The Freight State Document

c) The $6-8 billion EAST –WEST Stage 1  Link Project provides an east west connection for the projected increase in freight traffic substantially funded by commuter tolls.


d) The newly established Capital City Zone takes in Egate, Docklands, all of Fishermans Bend, Southbank and parts of Carlton.  Other areas referred to as potential high growth area are Collingwood Richmond, Cremorne and Arden Macaulay as part of other processes.  In essence,  the whole of Melbourne’s inner ring of older suburbs is largely directed at their future transformation into new high density residential and commercial precincts.  The Minister for Planning is the responsible Authority for the Capital City Zone for developments over 4 storeys.


e) New Planning Zones:  Another significant change to the Planning environment is the Minister’s release of completely overhauled planning zones for residential and commercial zones, making development very much easier particularly for area such as FBURA.



a)  FBURA docs



d) Vision versus Prudence Prof J Freebairn &  Max Corden

e) STOP WEBDOCK MPS Submission March 2103  - link




City of Port Phillip Website

CAPP Website

Places Victoria Website

Metropolitan Planning Authority