Council moves ahead with innovation district

By David Schout

Melbourne’s first innovation district is a step closer after the City of Melbourne approved “future-focused” plans for the north of the CBD.

In collaboration with RMIT University and the University of Melbourne, City North – which takes in both universities, the State Library, Royal Exhibition Building and the Melbourne Museum – would see improvements to streets and open spaces to best serve and attract workers to the hub.

The area is already home to 21 per cent of all knowledge sector jobs in the City of Melbourne, concentrated in a small parcel of land.

By 2025, it will also be home to two new railway stations (Parkville Station and State Library Station) as part of the Metro Tunnel project.

City North would be the first chapter of a wider Melbourne Innovation Districts (MID) plan. 

Cr Rohan Leppert said the area was vital in leveraging emerging technologies and innovation.

“This is a really important part of our city that we need to plan to get right,” he said.

“That is so we can facilitate, through the public realm, the sorts of connections between the workers and institutions in the City North precinct to enable as much collaboration and innovation as we possibly can.”

A draft plan for City North was considered 12 months ago, before feedback from stakeholders and members of the community led to changes that were brought before council on November 12. 

Cr Nicolas Frances Gilley said the importance of enhancing the urban realm in areas like City North couldn’t be underestimated.

“It’s really exciting to recognise the importance of innovation and how you play a role and give it place. And when you give it place, it makes it real.”

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said Melbourne was in a “knowledge boom” and hoped the plan would result in an “explosion of ideas, experiments and innovation”.

The council is yet to announce which part of the city will take in the next MID.

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