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Response by Bob Morgan:

I love living at Docklands. I love the urban lifestyle and the constantly changing waterfront. It has a few faults but in general is a seriously great area to live. Where else in Melbourne can you live within 5 mins walk of a Supermarket, Pharmacy, Bank , Post Office, Hairdresser, Library, Sailing Club and 10 Restaurants, have an uninterupted water view and have my boat moored 25 metres from the door of my building. I now also have the wonderful bonus of being in the free tram zone and quick access to three freeways.

Then along comes the worst, most mediocre plan for one of its best assets, Harbour Promenade.

I don’t have to much problem with the idea of the old sheds being utilised along the promenade as a homage to the past as long as no more than 40% of the through view is blocked. The sheds need to include seven day a week restaurants, open picnic and play areas and tourist orientated retail. They should not include offices or cafes that cater only for the midweek lunch crowd. Both of these lead to dead weekends. Why would a café owner at Docklands open in the weekend paying penalty rates when they can make good money catering only for the office worker lunch market. If Docklands was in any self-respecting shopping centre it would be a condition of all leases to open for the full extent of weekend retail hours.

The proposed 8 Metre promenade is a joke. It is travesty and totally inadequate. It is not wide enough for functions exhibitions, public events or even cyclists and pedestrians to share let alone outdoor eating. The recent Chinese New year street markets along Harbour Esplanade were a great success for both the locals and the wider community despite minimal promotion and inadequate seating and infrastructure. The Southern Promenade was only just capable of coping with this festival as it was.

We have lost the New Quay plaza to the greed of MAB Corporation and the stupidity of the former planning minister and the only remaining public plaza is the Harbour Esplanade area. The ability to provide a significant multi use parkland in a prominent part of our beautiful city only comes around once in a century. To waste that opportunity now would be a lost opportunity that this and future generations would always regret. The Ron Barassi park, whilst an asset to the area is never going to be a destination for tourism or local recreational visitors. It is a at best a local sports ground occupying what is an under bridge wasteland, over shadowed by a container stack and assaulted 24/7 by the piecing sound of the continuous warning beepers from the Container Staddle Trucks operating on the adjacent Wharf.

If you need to see what is planned for Harbour Esplanade in action, visit the waste land behind the old sheds along Siddley Street or at best the little used South Bank area opposite it (ie: behind the DFO). Neither of these areas are as well used and dynamic as Harbour Esplanade is even now with almost no money spent.

The promenade and in fact the whole idea of the original Docklands Development Plan was to open Melbourne up to the water. To put a three storey wall of buildings will completely destroy this Grand Concept Plan for 100 years and the many generations to come. This area could become an icon of Melbourne or a near wasteland. As a City Council and State Government it is your choice. Leave Melbourne a grand legacy such as the Fitzroy or Botanic gardens for generations to come or an near urban wasteland like the current Siddley Street riverbank.

Council and the State Government should have some guts for a change and make the bold decision required. Dump the unimaginative second rate Hassel plan with its three storey barrier, have an International Competition and do something the greatest City in Australia and future Generations can be really proud of.

Bob Morgan

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