Meinhardt Infrastructure & Environment is currently involved in a master planning and feasibility study for the Apollo Bay Harbour Precinct (located approximately 150 kilometres south-west of Melbourne). One of the key aims of the redevelopment is the provision of improved community benefits through the delivery of high quality community and tourist facilities/services and public spaces. The draft master plan includes several commercial leasing sites on public land within the precinct and it is anticipated that through these opportunities the private sector will contribute to the provision of community infrastructure. Tenure arrangements for the lease sites are yet to be determined and will influence the ultimate direction that development around the Apollo Bay Harbour takes.
The visit to Mandurah highlighted a different approach to coastal development that has been led by the State Government. One example is the Mandurah Ocean Marina, which is a master planned development comprising a marina as well as residential, commercial, tourism and recreational uses. The 60-hectare site was developed by LandCorp (the State Government’s land and property development agency) and $60 million dollars was provided for the Marina’s infrastructure. It is estimated that the development will provide close to one billion dollars to the local economy over 20 years and create more than 600 full time jobs.
Community and economic benefit
There is no doubt that the sale of land parcels has resulted in a higher level of private sector investment and consequently, significant community and economic benefit. The Mandurah example also highlights the major contribution made by the State Government to get the project off the ground.
While I do not wish to see our precious coast sold off to the private sector, it is my experience that a 21-year lease on coastal Crown Land makes it very difficult (if not impossible) to attract significant private sector investment in a development, no matter how well it is planned. This unfortunately results in less than optimal community benefits, in the form of contributions to infrastructure, services/ facilities and public realm improvements, as well as economic benefits (including employment opportunities for locals).
These elements are critical to the health, attractiveness, and vibrancy of a town.
The Victorian State Government has announced that it will be undertaking a review of Crown Land lease terms and hopefully this will be an opportunity to seriously consider providing longer leases for developments that can demonstrate net community benefit (social, environmental and economic).