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Great news for Port!

School v sports clubs: The future of this Port Melbourne site decided

Rachael Dexter ByRachael Dexter The Age December 18, 2023 — 5.24pm


KEY POINTS Port Phillip Council has paid over $38 million to secure 1.5 hectare industrial site in Port Melbourne. The site sits adjacent to the popular North Port Oval - also known as ETU stadium - where competing sporting codes are jostling over access to the grounds. The council became embroiled in a bidding war with state government which was seeking to purchase the land for a new Primary School for Fishermans Bend. The council asserted that the state government was reneging on a 2018 masterplan in which the site would become open space and said it was “absurd” for two tiers of government to compete for the same site. The council will spend the next two years creating a masterplan for the warehouse site. 

A highly sought-after piece of industrial land in Port Melbourne will be turned into open space and sporting grounds after the local council won a bidding war, quashing the state government’s plan for a new primary school on the site. City of Port Phillip Mayor Heather Cunsolo announced on Monday the $38.8 million purchase of a 1.54-hectare site adjoining North Port Oval – also known as ETU Stadium – at 509 Williamstown Road in Port Melbourne and the wider Fishermans Bend precinct.

The land was the site of an Australia Post warehouse. , has been bought by the City of Port Phillip. North Port Oval, with the Australia Post warehouse in the foreground, has been bought by the City of Port Phillip. News of the sale came four months after The Age revealed the bayside council had entered a bidding war with the Education Department, which wanted the land for a promised new primary school, despite the site being earmarked in the government’s 2018 masterplan for Fishermans Bend to be open space.

The AFL and Cricket Australia both weighed in on the fight over the future of the warehouse, after growing tensions between footballers and cricketers over access to the adjacent council-owned North Port Oval due to the increasing popularity of AFLW.

The Australia Post site was seen by the council as a pressure release on the oval which would create open space for the public and more sporting facilities for the Port Melbourne football and cricket clubs, which are both fiercely defensive of claims to the 150-year-old oval.

 On Monday, Australia Post would not reveal whether the state government had withdrawn from the bidding or been outbid by the council. Advertisement Cunsolo said in a statement that before the council put in its final offer, it had been unable to get a response from the state government on whether it was also putting in a final bid.

A government spokesman also declined to reveal whether the state had made a final bid saying only, “we support the City of Port Phillip’s decision to purchase the site for open space”. The spokesman also confirmed that the state was now looking at alternative options for the primary school. Public records show the Australia Post site last sold in 1985 for $2.2 million.

Cunsolo’s statement said the $38.8 million price tag was in keeping with an independent valuation undertaken as part of the council’s due diligence before the purchase. “The agreed price is within that valuation and, per square metre, is less than half the price paid about seven years ago for land to develop Kirrip Park in South Melbourne,” she said. North Port Oval and the Australia Post warehouse. North Port Oval and the Australia Post warehouse.

A spokeswoman for Australia Post confirmed the parcel facility would continue operating for up to two more years as a new site for it is sought and the council undertakes community consultation on how the redevelopment will look.

Cunsolo floated ideas including permanently closing a small council-owned side street – Bertie Street – and incorporating it into the footprint of the Australia Post site to increase its size. How any new sports facilities will be carved up between the clubs will be the subject of the council’s community consultation.

Sophie Williams, general manager of the Port Melbourne Football Club, said the club was excited by the council’s purchase, while Port Melbourne Cricket Club president Chris Sewell said there was still “a lot of water [to] go under the bridge” to sort out the allocation of grounds in the consultation period. Get the day’s breaking news, entertainment ideas and a long read to enjoy. 

Edited by: billythekid on 19/12/2023 - 15:40