Solution to Housing Crisis Stalls: Fishermans Bend's 15,000 New Apartments Await Tram Line Unlock

Bernadene Voss, President of the Fishermans Bend Business Forum, stands where a bridge for a tram to Fishermans Bend was proposed to be built by 2025
Bernadene Voss stands where a bridge for a tram to Fishermans Bend was proposed to be built by 2025. CREDIT:JOE ARMAO, The Age

The Fishermans Bend Business Forum ramps up its advocacy for increased investment in public transport to address the housing crisis and unlock the potential of Fishermans Bend, an area with over 15,000 approved or upcoming apartments.

President, Bernadene Voss, believes her interview with The Age will help amplify the message and raise awareness about the critical need for public transport investment in Fishermans Bend. Speaking on behalf of the Forum, she emphasises the vital need for a tram line down Plummer Street and another line down Turner Street to the new University of Melbourne Engineering Centre, urging that public transport is the crucial element missing in Fishermans Bend. The Forum is calling on the State Government to prioritise significant transport investment in the area.

The development of Fishermans Bend, rezoned over a decade ago, is being scrutinized by the Victorian Office of the Auditor General, with concerns raised about the absence of proposed tram lines that would facilitate the growth of the area. The Auditor General’s investigation aims to evaluate whether state agencies are aligning with the 2018 masterplan, which envisions a population of 80,000 and 80,000 jobs in Fishermans Bend by 2050. The lack of progress on the tramline and bridge, initially scheduled for completion between 2020 and 2025, has led stakeholders to doubt the government’s ability to meet its own deadlines.

With Melbourne facing a housing affordability crisis, the state government plans to announce a significant policy overhaul to boost housing supply. However, the Fishermans Bend Business Forum, along with developers, councils, and planners, is urging the government to refocus its attention on Fishermans Bend. They argue that the development potential of the area, including thousands of dwellings, affordable housing, and new jobs, remains untapped due to the absence of adequate public transport infrastructure. The Forum highlights the importance of tramlines to accommodate the projected population and employment growth and emphasises that the Fishermans Bend precinct should not be held back for want of a tramline.

In addition to the housing crisis, concerns are raised about the lack of progress in delivering promised parks, community facilities, and open spaces in the developed areas of Fishermans Bend. The City of Port Phillip and the City of Melbourne express concerns over the pressure on existing open spaces and stress the critical role of major transport projects, including the Fishermans Bend tram extension and the Melbourne Metro Two rail project, for the viability of the precinct.

Despite physical barriers such as flood risk and contaminated soil, stakeholders argue that the cost of implementing a tram line in Fishermans Bend is relatively small compared to other major infrastructure projects. They believe the government should prioritise the development of Fishermans Bend, as it holds significant potential for affordable housing and job creation. The Fishermans Bend Business Forum’s advocacy for increased investment in public transport aims to prompt the government to take immediate action to address the pressing needs of the area.

Read the article in The Age here.