Press Releases

Fishermans Bend Back into Shape? - released April 2015

Port People Inc (PPI), a community based advocacy group, has welcomed the State Government's decision to review the Strategic Plan for the Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Area (FBURA).

"The Victorian Government promised a review pre-election, and we are encouraged that they are honouring their commitment", said PPI President Rowan Groves. "We're especially pleased the review has such an emphasis on community engagement."

Former Planning Minister Matthew Guy had overseen the development and release of a plan for FBURA that has been almost universally panned as an example of what not to do. There was only the sketchiest of ideas on where schools, open space, and transport infrastructure would be located.

"Other community services such as aged care, libraries and health centres were not even mentioned. Even the funding schemes for these were not to be finalised until August this year", said Mr Groves.

PPI believes the review offers the best chance of FBURA becoming an example of world's best practice planning. "The inclusion of an employment precinct, an overarching Infrastructure Plan and revised governance arrangements are all excellent first steps to deliver on the aspirations of the original Vision for the area", he said.

PPI is not so appreciative of the Interim Guidelines also announced on Friday, which allows mandatory heights of between four and forty storeys for new applications. Applications already lodged but yet to be decided will be assessed against the guidelines previously in place.

Mr Groves said "There is a real danger that permits could be issued for towers of 20, 52 and 72 storeys in areas the Interim Guidelines reserves for 4, 12 and 40 storeys respectively. We are concerned such permits could undermine or pre-empt the outcomes of the review".

PPI is looking forward to the formation of the Ministerial Advisory Committee and seeing further details on how applications will be assessed from now on.


To read the PPI submission to the Draft Vision for Fishermans Bend click here

Further inquiries can be made to Rowan Groves on 9646 3687 or

Fishermans Bend: Waking up to a Nightmare - released September 2014

Port People Inc. (PPI), a Port Melbourne-based community group, has called on the State Government to stop approving high rise towers in the Fishermans Bend extended capital city zone before it creates a nightmare for people living and travelling through the area.

The Government has two major projects under way at either end of Port Melbourne. The Webb Dock expansion will triple the number of containers being carried on the Westgate Freeway. The Fishermans Bend urban renewal project will result in over 80,000 more residents and 40,000 employees living and working alongside the same stretch of freeway.

Fishermans Bend has come under fire because of concerns about lack of critical infrastructure including open space, schools, health and aged care facilities and adequate transport corridors. Traffic congestion is now being added to those concerns.

Today, PPI President Helen Kuchel said “The Westgate is already at capacity for long periods every day. The Port expansion will more than double the number of trucks using the freeway each day, and Fishermans Bend will add at least another 20,000 cars to the local roads by the time it’s finished”.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy recently approved five applications for developments in the Montague precinct that will see 11 high rise residential towers being built within a small area either side of the 109 tram route to Station Pier. Another site within metres of two of the developments is being prepared for a new primary school.

These sites straddle Montague St, Normanby and City Roads – the busiest roads providing access between the CBD and the southern bayside suburbs, including Port Melbourne, St Kilda and Brighton”, said Mrs Kuchel. “Once building starts, traffic will become even more congested as lanes are closed for deliveries of building materials. Some of the larger trucks going to and from Webb Dock will have to use the Montague St exits from the M1, which can only add to the congestion.”

PPI is concerned that this will be a problem for commuters from the bayside suburbs for years to come. “There has been no mention of any plan for managing traffic during the building phase of the project.” Mrs Kuchel concluded “This is further evidence of the failure to plan this 40 year project. It is another example of planning to fail”.

Further inquiries can be made to Rowan Groves on 9646 3687 or Email

Port People Call for Hold on Rates - released June 2013

Community group Port People Incorporated (PPI) has called on the City of Port Phillip (CoPP) to freeze council rates at their current levels until a review of how they are calculated is completed.

PPI has made a submission to Council in response to next year's draft budget because of concerns with CoPP use of rate payers' money.

PPI President Helen Kuchel claims the Council's budget process is flawed. "We think it puts the cart before the horse. CoPP puts together a wish list of projects first, and then increase the rates to cover the expense".

Council expenditure is planned to increase by nearly $41 million between 2012 and 2017. Rates will rise by 36% in the same period. The largest single cost increase in the budget is salaries, which will go up by 24% over the next 4 years. PPI believes the size of the increase is unwarranted and considers that the decision on the new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) should be open to the public.

"Council wages are already at the upper end of national awards, and we want to ensure that ratepayers are not being treated as an open cheque book", said Mrs Kuchel. "One in six households in the city are classified as low income. How much each household pays depends on the market value of the property, not on an equal share of the cost of the Council", she said.

PPI is demanding that Council confine its spending to things that provide a clear benefit to the community and that represent the best possible value for money. It has also asked the Council to amend its rating strategy so all residents pay an equal share of the cost of the budget.

Locals Fight Council Back Flip on Solar

Applicants and objectors have joined forces following a Port Phillip Council vote to reject the first proposal to install solar panels in Garden City.

"So much for the Council's climate change battle plan", said Rowan Groves, one of the applicants proposing to put two 5 kilowatt solar systems on adjoining bank houses. "This sends a clear message to ratepayers - we have to fund Council's plans to reduce its carbon emissions to zero, but we won't be permitted to do our bit locally. We'll just have to battle climate change and rising power bills some other way".

Mayor Rachel Powning, who wasn't at the Council Planning meeting, stated in March last year that the Towards Zero Sustainable Environment Strategy was Council's number one priority.

The proposal was originally lodged in February 2011 and has been amended several times in the last seventeen months. "Mr Chumbley and I have examined every conceivable way of installing enough solar panels to make it worthwhile without damaging the character of the area" said Mr Groves. However, the six remaining councillors deadlocked over the proposal before acting chair Cr Klepner cast a second deciding vote against it. Earlier, Sandridge Ward Councillor Janet Bolitho had invited community group Port People to make an objection before voting against the proposal.

Port People President Helen Kuchel said the group would be writing to Council asking it to clarify its positions on both sustainability and heritage. "Residents need to know how to make solar power workable in a heritage setting" she said.

CoPP's Betty Day Community Centre in Argyle Street St. Kilda. Note the solar panels.