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5 things Fishermans Bend needs to do. Hints from PCA, GBCA, C40, Bioregional and more

Artist's impression of a reimagined Fishermans Bend.
Artist's impression of a reimagined Fishermans Bend.

Mandating high building standards, precinct-wide organic waste management and sustainable transport are just a few of the ways sustainability ambitions for the Fishermans Bend urban renewal project can be delivered, according to a new report from design firm HIP V. HYPE prepared for the City of Port Phillip in collaboration with the City of Melbourne.

The report reviewed international best practice examples of sustainability in order to inform the approach taken to Fishermans Bend. A total of 51 projects were investigated, with deeper investigation of the 15 most relevant projects to the City of Port Phillip and Melbourne’s six sustainability principles for Fishermans Bend – low carbon city, water sensitive city, climate adept city, connected and liveable city, low waste city, and biodiverse city.

A number of trends were found across international projects including high mandatory building standards, precinct-wide organic waste management, biodiversity and green infrastructure targets, retrofitting and tactical urbanism projects, local renewable energy systems, innovative financing mechanisms such as value capture, and prioritising cycling and walking infrastructure.

“The intent of this process was to identify those innovations and practices in the delivery of outstanding sustainability performance with the strongest relevance and potential for uptake within Fishermans Bend,” the report said.

Stakeholder feedback was received from a range of bodies, including Sustainability Victoria, the Property Council of Australia, the Green Building Council of Australia, C40 Cities, Bioregional, the Fishermans Bend Taskforce and a range of utility providers.

The results have been grouped into five key actions the report said were necessary to deliver on precinct sustainably.

1. Establish long-term collaborative governance

The report found that best-practice sustainability outcomes required long-term, politically protected, adaptive governance to provide certainty for both the private and public sectors. It recommends the establishment of a long-term collaborative governance entity for Fishermans Bend, with a strong mandate to deliver the sustainability vision and priorities. The entity would need a formal role in planning approval to ensure development is aligned with the vision. The Lloyd Ecodistrict in Portland, Oregon US, demonstrates one model that could be adopted.

2. Create evidence-based sustainability objectives and targets, and monitor actual performance

The report said long-term targets needed to be based on the ecological limits of the planet. The discussion of sustainability needed to be brought back to outcomes being sought, such as keeping global warming under 2°C, rather than an arbitrary target. It said the Fishermans Bend Environmental Footprinting tool developed by City of Port Phillip could assist in target formation. Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter renewal was named as an example of strong targets and effective monitoring.

3. Implement controls and incentives that provide certainty at the precinct, neighbourhood and building scale

An upfront commitment to a precinct-wide sustainability targets and a Green Star Communities rating would provide certainty to public and private sector participants, the report found. As well, mandated building/development level controls that set high performance-based requirements would provide certainty around demands on infrastructure like energy, water, waste water and transport. Incentives like density bonuses could be offered to help transition developers to higher building standards. An example provided in Bahnstadt in Germany, which required all development in the precinct to achieve Passive House standard.

4. Deliver catalyst projects and infrastructure

While plans, strategies and policies were critical, catalyst projects and infrastructure were required to lead the market, provide effective signals of preferred development staging and standards, and capitalise on precinct-level economies of scale, the report said. It recommends the identification of target sites to guide development staging, set quality benchmarks and incentivise private investment that delivers on the precinct sustainability vision. Tonsley in Adelaide is a good example of catalyst infrastructure, where high speed fibre broadband and high quality public space was provided to attract suitable businesses.

5. Recognise the evolutionary nature of renewal and make the most of short, medium and long-term opportunities

As the precinct could not be transformed immediately, it was important to look for short, medium and long-term wins, the report says. For example, in the short term existing business could be targeted with discounted retrofit and solar installs, which would deliver immediate benefits and also start the engagement process with landowners. HafenCity in Germany was provided as an example. Here mediating flood risk made development unviable taking into consideration long-term climate change, so urban design solutions that incorporated flooding into public domain was implemented.

The report said the lack of consolidated land ownership, significant government land ownership and transformational policy levers were barriers to achieving high sustainability outcomes.

“In the absence of clear planning controls and delivery mechanisms in relation to development performance outcomes, the delivery of best practice sustainability outcomes for the precinct will fail to be fulfilled,” it said.

“Fishermans Bend requires an approach focused on developing a pragmatic, context-specific and implementable set of delivery mechanisms.”

The report advises the Fishermans Bend Taskforce to take its findings into consideration in the resolution of the recast Fishermans Bend Framework, Precinct Plans, future planning scheme amendments and governance arrangements.

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