Melbourne University is planning to build a multimillion dollar engineering and IT campus at Fishermans Bend, Australia’s largest urban renewal project
But the 1000 postgraduate students who will study at the campus after it opens in the early 2020s, will be forced to rely on a university bus service to get to class until the Andrews Government rolls out a light rail service.
Fishermans Bend is a new suburb covering 485 hectares. It takes in most of the industrial areas of Port Melbourne and South Melbourne, on both sides of the West Gate Freeway.
It was rezoned in 2012 by then planning minister Matthew Guy, who approved a swath of high-rise towers but left a massive infrastructure black hole.
By 2050 a projected 80,000 people will call the suburb home, and there will be 40,000 jobs.
Melbourne University spent $49.8 million to buy about seven hectares in the area’s planned employment precinct, five kilometres from Melbourne’s CBD.
The university’s Parkville campus – currently housing engineering students – will continue to be used by students for some classes.
The new campus is part of the university’s near $1 billion 2025 engineering strategy, which will include the new campus, upgrades at the Parkville campus engineering facilities and development of the former Royal Women’s Hospital site.
The new Fishermans Bend campus, at the old General Motors Holden site, will be used for larger-scale research involving autonomous vehicles, wind and water tunnels and engine propulsion testing.
The first tranche of construction will cost $220 million and early works would start next year.
Launching the new campus on Thursday, Treasurer Tim Pallas said the site would become “a centre of engineering excellence”.
The new campus would provide an $8 million boost to the state economy and generate more then 15,000 jobs by 2025, he said.
“This is going to be the future of engineering,” Mr Pallas said.
“We’re going to need a lot of engineers and it is a profession that as a country, we need to do better on.”
A strategy for Fishermans Bend, released by the Andrews Government in October, outlined that the tram network would be extended to Fishermans Bend, including a proposed new tram route from Collins Street in Docklands over the Yarra, and a line through the old Holden site along Turner Street.
Mr Pallas would not say when the light rail would be delivered to the area, claiming that it would be built at a time when the population growth justified it.
“We will need in a timely fashion to deliver this project, and will once the population justifies the light rail.”
The government strategy also flagged a Doncaster rail line that would travel through Clifton Hill and then on in a new metro line that would extended through Fishermans Bend.
An underground rail station within the precinct was flagged for the area.
But Mr Pallas said this would not be delivered in his political lifetime.
“Let’s get through Melbourne Metro 1 first, but there is Melbourne Metro 2 and Metro 3, and they will have to be delivered.
“We’re going to have to do all this work, probably not by me, I will have moved on to greener pastures by then … it’s a much longer timeframe.”
Melbourne University Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis said the new campus would serve as a centre for “world class research”.
“Around us in the precinct will be some of the nation’s, and indeed some of the world’s most important technology companies, and they will be natural partners for our students, for our researchers and for our future,” he said.
“We are committed to engineering as central to Victoria’s future … if this state is going to grow and prosper, engineers are the heart of that.”