September 9, 2013  |  Member Statement

Maribyrnong River Development Height Limits

The matter I wish to raise is for the Minister for Planning. The action I seek from the minister is immediate height limits on development along the Maribyrnong River within the jurisdiction of the City of Maribyrnong. The reason I raise this issue is that we know that in October last year the minister announced that height limits would be set. Height limits were set for the Yarra River within the City of Boroondara almost immediately, but those limits have not been set along the Maribyrnong River. In fact there was a belief that there was an agreement between the minister and the council as to what those height limits would be and that an announcement would be made. Just as that announcement was to be made, however, the minister approved a development along the Maribyrnong in excess of those height limits, and they have not yet been announced.

Everyone is aware that Footscray is undergoing a great deal of development, but this is a turning point for the city. There is an opportunity to make it an amazing place with development that has a mixture of height, accommodation and employment opportunity along with commercial development while trying to keep intact the essence of Footscray that is now so attractive to so many people from many backgrounds and while keeping it a place to come to enjoy what it has to offer and to improve on that.

Unfortunately, however, we are seeing approvals for the development of high-rise buildings in Footscray that are well beyond what was the original expectation for Footscray. Where there were height limits of 12 storeys, we are now seeing approvals being given by the minister for 32 storeys. It is just getting out of hand, and I ask that the minister start to look at providing a more comprehensive plan to ensure that the Footscray of the future is a place where people want to live, shop, work and get an education.

Footscray has Victoria University framing its central business district, with the Ballarat Road and Nicholson Street campuses; and the university’s intention is to be a big part of Footscray’s redevelopment. This is an opportunity to get it right and make Footscray a great place to visit, a great place to live and a great place for families to grow and provide education and opportunities for their kids. On the other hand, we could get it totally wrong. If we make one-off decisions to allow a development’s height to go to excess and then the height of another development goes to excess, it will be wrong.