Council Weighs in on $2bn Fishermans Bend Campus


The University of Melbourne might have to go back to the drawing board on the design of a proposed $2 billion campus at Fishermans Bend following a critical committee report.

City of Melbourne design strategists said issues surrounding the planned campus had arisen in relation to public realm, the retention of heritage fabric, built form massing, heights and amenity impacts as well as staging and site coverage.

The report issued responds to the state government’s planning scheme amendment which proposes controls for the campus.

The university’s proposed campus, masterplanned by Grimshaw, will occupy a 7.2 hectare site on Salmon Street, the former home to General Motors Holden within the 450-hectare Fishermans Bend urban renewal precinct on Melbourne's southern edge.

melbourne university fishermans bend
▲ The proposed site layout diagram indicates four building parcels adjoined by a connective green open space spine that runs through a central social area.

The campus, designed to accommodate spaces for the Melbourne School and Engineering and Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning and would feature shared workspaces, networking hubs, meeting and collaboration spaces, retail and other uses.

The campus, which would accomodate 4,000 staff, students and partners by 2024, will also feature a network of streets and lanes, workshops, galleries and cafes.

City of Melbourne councillors are due to vote on a planning amendment paving the way for the development, set to be a centrepiece within the planned employment precinct, this week.

The state government has been leaning towards the project favourably, but the report said that before council could sign off on the development, it would need to reflect on a number of recommendations.

“The masterplan provides limited explanation of how this site will relate to the surrounding context,” the report said.

“At the moment the built form appears to overwhelm the public realm.

“As the public realm will be essential to the success of the precinct, a more generous public realm is required.”

The report highlighted a concern for building envelope heights with a strong possibility that the development could set unrealistic benchmarks for future development.

“There is also the opportunity to position the new campus at the forefront of environmentally sustainable development and integrated water management,” the report said.

“From the information provided it does not appear that this will be achieved.”

Council said it was now working closely with the Fishermans Bend Taskforce within the Department of Jobs Precincts and Regions to prepare a draft precinct structure plan for community engagement by early 2021.

The masterplan for Fishermans Bend, which will see the industrial precinct broken into five residential and commercial precincts, envisages 80,000 people living in the area as well as 60,000 jobs created during the next three decades.

Relatively few permits have been granted so far to developers with long-awaited rules about infrastructure contributions holding up progress in recent years.

The development of detailed precinct plans for the five precincts into which the site is subdivided are still yet to be finalised.

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