A fisherman presenting a caught fish through angling

Fishermans Bend: Will the precinct catch the market?

On 2 July 2012 the then Minister For Planning, Matthew Guy, announced the rezoning of the Fishermans Bend area from an industrial precinct to a ‘Capital City Zone’ and declared it a project of State Significance. Overnight it became Australia’s largest urban renewal area which to put in context will effectively double the size of the Melbourne CBD.

Urban renewal is a program of land redevelopment in areas of moderate to high density urban land use, therefore typically identified as areas in close proximity to major cities. In Melbourne urban renewal has been met with its fair share of opposition over the years with the Docklands precinct copping much of the criticism.

From being excessively windy to a lack of open space or absence of restaurants and resident infrastructure, the area was considered by many as a failure. Or perhaps it was just ahead of its time.

Docklands sits on 150 hectares of developable land area which will house 20,000 residents and 60,000 workers on or around its completion date currently set at 2025. In comparison Fishermans Bend with a total developable land area of 455 hectares is expected to house some 80,000 people and provide 60,000 jobs by 2050; a year many demographers consider the one which Melbourne overtakes Sydney as the first city to reach a population of eight million.

Melbourne’s population growth and household dwelling size both contribute to Fishermans Bend having a key role to play in addressing Melbourne’s growth challenge.

The first Docklands towers in New Quay and Yarra’s Edge were predominantly purchased by local owner-occupiers, particularly downsizers along with international investors many of whom were permanent residents. That said, at the time these developments were in a sales and marketing phase, the demographic of smaller single or couple households, when compared to middle and outer ring house product, was just on the rise.

The number of households in Victoria increased by 162,971 between 2006 and 2011.

The largest changes in the number of persons usually resident in a household in Victoria between 2006 and 2011 as sourced by were:

  • 2 persons (+53,043 households)
  • 1 person (+40,341 households)
  • 3 persons (+30,280 households)
  • 4 persons (+25,368 households)

Docklands' historically mixed reviews has placed the Fishermans Bend master plan in the spotlight which has furthermore resulted in the partnering of Victorian government, local government (Fishermans Bend sits across both Melbourne and Port Philip Councils) and private sectors. The Metropolitan Planning Authority are preparing detailed strategic plans alongside the Fishermans Bend Task Force and Ministerial Advisory Committee.

With community engagement touch points along the way ensuring the best outcome for the precinct, it's hoped that Fishermans Bend will become an inner city family-friendly environment, supporting a diverse and connected community.

This of course goes hand in hand with vertical living.

The majority of vertical living of late in Melbourne’s CBD has been driven by international purchasers familiar with the product purchased as it bears close resemblance in both design and location (central city) to their country of origin.

Melburnians have been comparatively slower to embrace vertical living, however the commute time and cost along with the desire for more free time - lifestyle - is encouraging families to consider inner ring rather than middle and outer ring suburban locations.

In this regard, Fishermans Bend is shaping to be cost effective with the potential to supply medium and high density product at or below current median established home prices.

Australia’s inner ring momentum has been pioneered with successful national examples as Fortitude Valley in Brisbane and The Bay’s Precinct in Sydney.

Fishermans Bend consists of 5 precincts and each is able to leverage off their adjoining suburb, giving the precinct the added value of established amenity and infrastructure nearby.

  • Montague precinct neighbouring South Melbourne and Southbank.
  • Lorimer neighbouring Docklands.
  • Sandridge neighbouring Port Melbourne.
  • Wirraway neighbouring Garden City and Port Melbourne.
  • Employment Precinct acting as the overlay to support the 4 precincts resident population.

Fishermans Bend will extend what are the most consistently in-demand areas to live in: South Melbourne, Southbank and Port Melbourne. Luckily Melbourne has the land catchment to provide the supply, a luxury most major cities throughout the world do not have.

Like a new mobile phone or the latest car model, there will always be a percentage of those supporters and detractors whose motivation to purchase will be driven by a different set of needs and wants.

Fishermans Bend will improve the city's affordability, housing choices and will offer lifestyle opportunities appealing to all household sizes; it won’t just catch the market: it shall reel it in.

Are you looking for buying opportunities in the Fishermans Bend and neighbouring areas? Register your details with Apartment Register.

Cameron Clarke is principal and founder of My Real Estate Mate and the Apartment Register brand.

Lead image credit: OSBF

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