Focus groups identify key Docklands Summit issues

Focus groups involving the Docklands community came together to share ideas with the City of Melbourne to help inform the agenda and workshops for the long-awaited Docklands Summit.

The summit, which will explore the revitalization and future vision of Docklands, will bring together more than 80 people from leading development companies, businesses, representative groups and the Victorian government.

Prior to the start of the summit at the Medallion Club, Marvel Stadium on September 2, the City of Melbourne hosted a series of focus group sessions with small businesses, residents and representative groups across Docklands to inform the design and direction Summit.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the sessions, which ran from August 8-21, provided “valuable feedback” and helped identify “fundamental issues and key challenges for discussion”.

“Our Docklands stakeholders have highlighted a range of priorities – including activating vacant floor space, improvements to make the enclosure more dynamic and easier to navigate, creating better connections to the picturesque harbor and improving public perception of the area,” she said.

Ms Capp said the invitation-only event was a historic opportunity to “reset the future” of Docklands, which had borne the economic brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic more than anywhere else in Australia, while also experiencing a exodus of workers and residents.

Visitation to the precinct is estimated to be down by around 30 million a year based on pedestrian numbers, with the closure of Central Pier and the Melbourne Star observation wheel casting another cloud of doubt over the once thriving waterfront hospitality and entertainment industry.

The summit will include group activities, guest speakers, workshops, panel discussion and networking opportunities – with key players including Development Victoria, AFL, Mirvac, Port Phillip Ferries, Lendlease, ANZ and the Department of Environment, Land and Water, among others.

Attendees will include Docklands Chamber of Commerce chief executive Shane Wylie, who hoped the summit would identify some key strategies for progress “rather than dwelling on small minutiae and complaints”.

“We will be watching the results carefully and finally hope that this will actually lead to action. Over the past five years, the chamber has been involved in five different consultations none of which has resulted in meaningful action,” he said. he declares.

A spokesperson for the Docklands Representative Group (DRG), who will also be attending, said: ‘It is our fervent desire that this summit takes a holistic approach and does not just focus on improving visitation.’

This included not only focusing on events and hospitality as a ‘solution’ to the future of Docklands, but rather ‘that there is real openness to considering new approaches, not the same old ones’.

“The unique feature of Docklands is the port and maritime history – no one else can really claim that,” the spokesperson said, adding that one way to enhance the knowledge-based experience for visitors was to take advantage of the indigenous and maritime history of the compound.

The DRG spokesperson said thought should also be given to addressing crime and safety issues, as well as the role residents could play in the community.

Another participant, Jackie Watts, chair of the Melbourne Maritime Heritage Network, said her group would advocate for maximizing the “untapped value” of Docklands waterways and heritage.

Ms Capp said the council was looking forward to building a “collective momentum to revitalize the area” as it was one of “Melbourne’s most important areas, home to major corporate headquarters as well as the scenic Port of Victoria which attracts tourists all year round”.

The council will offer summit attendees a $50 cashback on money spent in Docklands over the next month, as part of the Docklands Dollars initiative – run by the Docklands Chamber of Commerce. •

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