Defence Site Maribyrnong

Planning for Defence Site Maribyrnong

Wide shot of the Defence Site Maribyrnong

The Defence Site Maribyrnong

Defence Site Maribyrnong (DSM) is a 127.8 hectare parcel of Commonwealth land located at 2 Cordite Avenue, Maribyrnong, in the City of Maribyrnong.

The Department of Defence has commenced an open market disposal process to sell the site on behalf of the Commonwealth. DSM represents a major urban renewal opportunity in an established area already undergoing significant growth and transformation.

The Victorian Minister for Planning instructed the Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) to lead the planning for DSM in collaboration with Maribyrnong City Council, the Department of Transport Planning (DTP) and other state and local government partners and the community.

The draft Vision establishes a capacity for a resident population of around 6,900 person, 3,300 dwellings and 1,800 jobs. It reflects the unique characteristics and challenges of the site, including cultural heritage, river frontage, site contamination and transport network capacity as well as Victoria’s expectations for public open space, community facilities and affordable housing.

An accompanying draft Site Remediation Strategy and draft Heritage Conservation Strategy have been prepared.

Whilst informed by earlier community feedback, the draft Vision and supporting documents have not been released or commented on by the community due to the status of the land disposal process and the historic use of the site for defence purposes.

The draft Vision and supporting documents were sent by the Minister for Planning Richard Wynne to the Minister for Defence Industries in September 2020.

The Victorian Government is keen to see the full potential of this extremely important strategic site realised. The VPA await the Commonwealth’s response to the Victorian Government’s draft plans with anticipation and look forward to consulting on them with the community.

Background information

The Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) a Victorian Government statutory authority that plans for urban growth across Victoria. We report to the Minister for Planning. 

The VPA’s main task is to make sure Melbourne and Victoria’s regions remain great places to live and work. This requires vision and long-term planning to ensure our growing population has equitable access to employment, public transport, attractive public spaces and affordable housing. 

We do this by working closely with councils, government agencies and the planning and development community on integrated land use and infrastructure coordination for new communities and strategically important precincts. 

The VPA is responsible for leading the preparation of the planning framework for Defence Site Maribyrnong (DSM).

Consultation and engagement processes are to be delivered by the VPA in partnership with Maribyrnong City Council. Maribyrnong City Council is a key partner, holding important local knowledge and assisting with the engagement and communications.

The Commonwealth Government owns DSM and intends to sell the site through the Department of Defence. The VPA and Maribyrnong City Council will consult with the Department of Defence throughout the planning process.

Project information

Planning for the DSM is presently focused on understanding the opportunities and constraints and stakeholder aspirations for the site. This will inform a refreshed vision for the future of the site.

This builds on and refreshes the 2010 Maribyrnong Shared Vision.

This vision will then inform a detailed structure planning process for the site, which will determine the appropriate land use pattern and critical infrastructure required to adequately service this new community.

DSM is a 127.8-hectare parcel of Commonwealth owned land located at 2 Cordite Avenue, Maribyrnong, in the City of Maribyrnong local government area.

DSM is strategically located less than 10km from Melbourne CBD, with 3km of river frontage and adjacent to the Highpoint Activity Centre.

The site is owned by the Commonwealth of Australia.

Victoria’s land use planning provisions do not presently apply to the land. However, Commonwealth legislation does apply. This include protections of the site’s heritage and environment under the Environmental Protection Biodiversity and Conservation Act 1999.

When the site is sold to a new owner it will be subject to Victorian planning regulations and any development will have to comply with the clear parameters of the planning controls to be stipulated in the Maribyrnong Planning Scheme.

The Department of Defence has outlined their process for divesting the site.

This can be found on their website:

With more than 3km of Maribyrnong River frontage, DSM is a place of significance to its traditional owners, who will be consulted to ensure that the cultural significance of the site is maintained.

The Department of Defence will work with Heritage Victoria to ensure that all statutory processes are followed to assess this place for its cultural heritage significance under the Heritage Act 2017.

The site’s historical use by Defence resulted in contamination which has only partially been remediated. Defence is currently remediating part of the site that requires specialist work unique to Defence.

The purchaser of the site from Defence must comply with the Environment Protection Act 1970, including EPA-issued statutory notices that outline requirements to manage environmental harm and land within the site. This may include the preparation of clean-up plans that meet the expectations of the site remediation strategy and are verified by an independent EPA accredited environmental auditor (contaminated land).

The auditor would be expected to provide a total assessment of the site (including land, air quality and groundwater) following remediation works. This is to enforce the legislative framework in place for the protection of the environment and human health.

The VPA will work with Melbourne Water, City West Water and Maribyrnong City Council to prepare the planning framework in accordance with the principles for integrated water cycle management as set out in the Water for Victoria – Water Plan and the City West Urban Water Strategy.

Key considerations will include how to:

  • manage river flooding and on-site drainage
  • improve water quality
  • encourage sustainable water reuse.

The extent of future development at DSM will be determined by the planning framework, which will take into account state and local land-use and infrastructure planning policies, site constraints and opportunities and the capacity of the transport network.

The 2010 Maribyrnong Shared Vision suggested a dwelling yield of up to 3,000 dwellings may be supported on the site alongside employment and education opportunities.

The VPA and Maribyrnong City Council will continue to work with independent expert consultants to undertake further detailed studies to examine the site’s residential, commercial and community development potential.

The VPA and Maribyrnong City Council will identify the anticipated social infrastructure needs of the future population and inform infrastructure and spatial planning for the area, including DSM. It is anticipated that areas of DSM will be required for open space and community facilities to ensure there is appropriate local community infrastructure to service the needs of the community.

The Commonwealth has committed to the delivery of a portion of the future development to social and affordable housing. This is consistent with the objectives of the Victorian Government’s Homes for Victorians policy.

The 2010 Maribyrnong Shared Vision suggested a minimum 20% of housing be affordable for low to moderate income households. The VPA will work with Maribyrnong City Council to identify an appropriate and feasible provision of social and affordable housing and means for implementation.

The VPA and its project partners will seek to optimise the employment opportunities on the site.

DSM has a rich employment history relating to agricultural, racing, military and research uses. In 1942, there was an estimated peak of 8,000 employees onsite. The unique characteristics of the place, including the built heritage, topography and river frontage may inspire an interesting mix of employment-generating uses.

These uses would complement those at the adjacent Highpoint Activity Centre and meet the needs of the future community.

Community engagement

The 2010 Maribyrnong Shared Vision was prepared to establish the community’s values and aspirations for DSM and provides an important starting point for further planning of the site.

However, to ensure the VPA and Maribyrnong City Council understand the community’s current aspirations for DSM, further extensive engagement processes will be carried out through this planning exercise. This will involve a number of opportunities for the local community to have their say on the future of this important site.

Community members and stakeholders had the opportunity to have input into the planning process for the site as part of the first phase of engagement from June to September 2018. Activities included a survey, community workshop, listening posts and targeted conversations about key objectives for the site.

It is intended that the draft DSM Vision will be provided for stakeholder and community comment as part of a second phase of engagement.

Supporting Documentation

Statement of Policy Intent (July 2018)
Statement of Policy Intent (July 2018) PDF  Version
Maribyrnong Shared Vision (Places Victoria) - September 2010
Maribyrnong Shared Vision (Places Victoria) - September 2010 PDF  Version
Defence Site Maribyrnong - Community Engagement Summary (Village Well) - October 2018
Defence Site Maribyrnong - Community Engagement Summary (Village Well) - October 2018 PDF  Version