Melbourne’s Fishermans Bend precinct is set to be transformed into a world-class employment and innovation cluster with up to 55,000 high-tech jobs, writes urban specialist Tim O’Loan.
Melbourne is a city undergoing unprecedented growth coupled with rapid technological disruption, and it is also home to one of the world’s highest-potential urban redevelopment precincts. The regeneration of the Fishermans Bend precinct into an employment and innovation cluster (EIC) could be worth up to $12 billion in additional annual gains to the economy of the State of Victoria by 2030. As such, it not only represents one of Australia’s biggest urban-renewal developments, it also provides Melbourne with an incredible opportunity to demonstrate its economic competitiveness and technological leadership in the ‘4th Industrial Revolution’.
This report lays out a vision for a high-performing EIC, and sets out recommendations for investments and strategies to realise a successful transformation. This report builds on the earlier findings from our report, Transforming Melbourne and Victoria with Employment and Innovation Clusters.
Our investigation begins with a single question: how can the Fishermans Bend employment precinct develop to become a globally significant employment and innovation cluster, and thereby drive Melbourne into a prominent position within the emerging global knowledge economy?
To do this, we looked at three different development scenarios for the Fishermans Bend employment precinct through to 2030 — an ‘enhanced’ EIC scenario applying our recommendations; a ‘current’ scenario modelling the Fishermans Bend Taskforce’s framework that is in place; and a ‘fragmented’ scenario with no special planning conditions. By rating each of the three approaches through applying our Urban Precinct Investment Tool, the investment required and range of benefits of each scenario can more easily be compared and contrasted. We found that our ‘enhanced’ EIC scenario has exceptional potential to achieve a far greater economic return and greater social and environmental performance than the other two. Moreover, up until 2030 the capital costs across the three scenarios are broadly similar, but what is most critical for success is how the investment is spent and who is attracted to the site.