National Trust supports In-Depth Heritage Review of Fishermans Bend

Feature image by Jamie Davies via Flickr 

On 20 April, City of Melbourne Councillors voted unanimously to is progress a planning scheme amendment to implement the recommendations of the Fishermans Bend In-Depth Heritage Review, 2021, the most comprehensive review of heritage buildings and structures in Fishermans Bend to date. 

Following the exhibition and implementation of the Southbank Heritage Review, we are pleased to be able to support this further in-depth heritage review commissioned for sites in the Fishermans Bend employment precinct. This work builds on the original study undertaken by Biosis, providing additional rigour and detail.

The Review recommends the application of a Heritage Overlay to three sites of local significance, and the nomination of two sites of state significance to the Victorian Heritage Register (VHR). The sites include:

Local significance

  • The Former Kraft Vegemite Factory (1 Vegemite Way, Port Melbourne)
  • Electricity Substation (224-236 Salmon Street, Port Melbourne)
  • Shed 21 (206 Lorimer Street, Docklands)

State significance

  • The West Gate Bridge
  • Former Government Aircraft Factory (now Boeing)

With the transformation of Fishermans Bend expected to accelerate in the coming years this work is vital to lay the foundation for planning in the precinct, based on a clear understanding of the precinct’s heritage values, and with appropriate planning controls in place.

As a heritage landscape, Fishermans Bend is a challenging one, which includes many complex operational industrial sites. As a heritage landscape, it is also incredibly significant at both a local and national level, telling the story of Melbourne’s industrialisation and post-war growth and prosperity.

Whether we are aware of it or not, more Melburnians would have historical connections with Fishermans Bend than with the Gold Rush. This work, which reveals and celebrates the history of this important precinct, will build and strengthen those connections to place, and allow the significance of the precinct in the broader history of our city and our country to be better understood.

We particularly commend the City of Melbourne’s collaborative approach of working with landowners to develop an in-depth understanding of significance, and discuss future management and operational needs. This is a resource-intensive approach, but one which we believe has been necessary given the complexities of these sites, and which we believe will achieve an appropriate balance between the recognition of heritage values, and ongoing operational requirements.

We were disappointed to note that the West Gate Service Stations (North and South) were removed from the proposed planning scheme amendment, as we believe that the heritage study clearly demonstrates that these sites reach the threshold for local heritage significance, as rare examples of tensile membrane structures, which are also notable landmarks for drivers crossing the West Gate Bridge. However we support the proposal to undertake a peer review of this citation, and advocate for Council to pursue a site-specific planning scheme amendment for these sites, if required.

We congratulate the City of Melbourne for progressing this in-depth and important work, which will set the foundation for future change in the Fishermans Bend employment precinct, and ensure that its history can be shared and understood by Melburnians, both present and future. We look forward to supporting the implementation of the study throughout the planning scheme amendment process.

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