PROPERTY owners who made a windfall when the Baillieu government rezoned old industrial land for the Fishermans Bend project are steaming ahead with plans for apartment towers, despite no master plan in place or public consultation begun.
Fairfax Media has learnt that about 10 owners of industrial sites in the proposed new residential suburbs have floated proposals for apartment towers of about 30 storeys with the Department of Planning and Community Development.
The early proposals are possible because of the government's unusual step of rezoning the land in June before a master plan, planning controls or developer's infrastructure levy had been drafted.
It extended the capital city zone to the more than 200 hectares of land next to Southbank and Docklands that will form five new suburbs.
Port Melbourne consultant David Parsons, who previously worked as a development general manager for Becton and Macquarie Bank, said he alone had three clients with five sites in the urban renewal area who had put forward proposals of apartment towers.
''There are no mandatory height limits and DPCD doesn't appear to be preoccupied with height at all,'' he said. ''We've been looking at relatively tall buildings, which seem not to be a major problem.''
He said department planning officers had been ''reasonably supportive'' of the proposals, ahead of a formal planning permit application.
Embattled government developer Places Victoria is at present preparing a draft master plan that includes provisions for community infrastructure and affordable housing.
The draft plan will go out for public feedback through the City of Melbourne and City of Port Phillip some time next year.
University of Melbourne fellow in urban geography Kate Shaw said the landowners were now ''sitting on a goldmine with virtually no planning controls''.
She said it was unlikely they would volunteer the affordable housing or mixed-land uses the government wanted without intervention, and such things are almost impossible to deliver in retrospect. ''They will be after the tallest and most upmarket apartment blocks,'' she said. ''This will set a pattern for the rest of Fishermans Bend.''
Outgoing chief executive officer of Places Victoria Sam Sangster said the agency was at present doing a ''needs analysis'' to discover how land could best be used and the staging of community infrastructure, such as public transport, libraries and schools.
Fishermans Bend is very different from Docklands in that it's not government-owned land, it's privately held.
''Fishermans Bend is very different from Docklands in that it's not government-owned land, it's privately held,'' Mr Sangster said. ''Private owners decide what's best for their land, within the strategic framework plan.
''In many circumstances, developers want to contribute with community facilities because it adds value to their own development.''
Mr Parsons said no landowners were considering uses other than apartments for their sites as yet because of a lack of public transport, a depressed commercial office market and limits on parking.
''With this zoning, on any given piece of land, an owner can apply for almost any use apart from noxious industrial use because capital city zoning is so wide open,'' he said.