Flinders Pier redevelopment project - timber inner section removal

Project summary

The final stage of the Flinders Pier redevelopment is underway with the proposed removal of a 180 metre inner timber section undergoing a heritage and environmental impact assessments.

Flinders Pier has undergone significant improvements in recent years including the construction of a new 3.2 metre-wide concrete deck alongside the old between the central vehicle turnaround and the shore. At the time of redevelopment, the duplicated timber inner section was retained as it still had some service life, with the added benefit of reducing the environmental impact of construction on marine plants and animals while marine growth recolonised on the new steel piles.

Recent engineering inspections have revealed extensive deterioration of this section of pier resulting from ageing infrastructure and sustained exposure to weather conditions now rendering it structurally unsound and at risk of complete failure or collapse in the future. This section was subsequently closed for public safety in April 2020. This section needs to be removed safely before it falls into the water and becomes a navigational hazard or potentially injures those beneath it. An additional section of the old inner section of the pier will also be removed.

Removal of the 180 metre section would not impact recreational or commercial user access to the full 327 metre pier experience currently available. Pedestrians and vehicles can continue to use the adjacent concrete deck built in 2011 to access the first landing, then cross over to the structurally sound timber section extending to the pier head.

Funding to remove the duplicated timber section of Flinders Pier was committed by the Victorian Government in July 2020 under the $11.6 million Better Piers and Waterside Facilities package. This would complete the last stage of the pier redevelopment project and make it safe for all visitors.

 

Diagram -Proposed section of removal

Diagram showing sections that would be retained and removed.  Measurements are not to scale.

 

* Latest News *

1.Structural condition inspection

Flinders Pier will undergo a routine engineering inspection to ensure it remains safe for everyone to enjoy during the approaching summer season.  The inspection, which includes both the above and below water components of the entire pier, will assess the structural condition identifying any potential structural risks. 

A small team of divers and engineers will be on site for approximately five days inspecting the above and below water components of the pier including piles, cross beams, and decks.  The pier (excluding the current closed failing inner timber section) will remain open during the inspection.   

Careful consideration is being taken to ensure the balance between achieving a thorough assessment and minimising impacts to the local marine environment.  Parks Victoria has engaged an experienced contractor to undertake the inspection who will follow an agreed environmentally sensitive approach.   Once complete, Parks Victoria will assess the findings and determine if any safety measures or further inspections are required.  Any changes to access will be communicated in due course. 



How will the marine values of the pier be protected during the inspection? 

To undertake the underwater inspection each of the piles (144 timber / 60 steel approximately) is partially cleaned through a scraping technique using low impact tools to allow any defects or issues that may affect safety to be observed.  This involves removing marine life attached to the piles such as algae, sponges, or sea squirts, from a narrow strip (200mm in width) along the length of the pile from high water to seabed level to reveal a section for inspection.  No pressure cleaning of piles to remove marine life will be undertaken underwater, and above the water all inspections will be visual assessments only.   

Any of the attached marine life living on the piles removed through the course of cleaning is expected to regrow as has been seen at other piers where similar inspections have occurred, and no long term changes are expected. No impacts of the inspection on larger mobile creatures such as fish (including the Weedy Seadragon), rays or crabs are expected as these creatures can move away while the inspection is being carried out.    

2. Marine Ecology and Pier Removal Impact Assessment - report findings

 

Findings from a scientific study looking at what impacts the removal of a failing section of Flinders Pier may have on the local marine environment are now available.

Parks Victoria acknowledges that many incredible species live under Flinders Pier, including the Weedy Seadragon.  That’s why we commissioned the Flinders Pier Marine Ecology Survey and Pier Removal Impact Assessment to identify any potential impacts to marine life and inform the next steps, including ways to protect its significant marine ecosystem.  

Explore the key findings

Read the Key Findings Fact Sheet.

View the infographic of key findings below. 

Note: This is a conceptual interpretation and not to scale.  To be read in conjunction with the report.

  

 

Read the full report

The report examines the marine ecosystem at the pier, maps habitat and marine life, and identifies any potential impacts works may have at that location.  

Download the Flinders Pier Marine Ecology and Pier Removal Impact Assessment (2021) report.

 

3.   Victorian Heritage Register nomination

 

Parks Victoria has been advised that Heritage Victoria has received a third-party nomination to include the Flinders Foreshore Precinct, including the timber pier, on the Victorian Heritage Register.   A statutory assessment process under the Heritage Act 2017 will consider whether the foreshore precinct is a place of State significance.  The matter is ultimately determined by the Heritage Council and the full process is likely to take at least six months. 

Parks Victoria has always acknowledged the heritage values the pier contributes to the precinct. For this reason, the outcome of the Victorian Heritage Register nomination will be considered along with the findings of the marine ecology and heritage impact assessments we commissioned before any decision on the pier’s future is made.  The Parks Victoria commissioned heritage impact assessment is still underway.  It is important that the Victorian Heritage Register undergoes the appropriate statutory assessment processes independent of the Flinders Pier - timber inner section removal - project.  For this reason the final heritage impact assessment will not be released until the heritage register nomination process is complete.  

Planned community engagement will be postponed allowing the heritage nomination process to take its course.    

 

Project stages

Stage 1 – New pier section build   Construction of new concrete pier: 2011 (complete)  

Stage 2 – Old pier partial closure   Closure of 120 metres of inner timber section of old pier: April 2020 (complete)  

Stage 3 – Old pier section removal  - Proposed removal of 180 metre inner timber section (current)

  • Planning and impact assessments: March to July 2021
  • Community engagement:  July to August 2021 (postponed)
  • Statutory approvals:  To be advised
  • Recommended approach announced and tender for works: To be advised
  • Work commences: To be advised
  • Work completed: To be advised 
     

Project funding

The final stage of the Flinders Pier redevelopment is part of the $11.6 million Victorian Government Better Piers and Waterside Facilities package to make the Flinders Pier safe.

 

Project partner

Department of Transport    

 

Background information

Piers and jetties play an important role for businesses and local communities and, given the large portfolio of maritime assets, the government must consider competing priorities for their repair and renewal. The Victorian Government made significant investments, including the $24 million investment in piers and jetties as part of the $2.7 billion economic stimulus initiative. As part of the Building Works initiative, funding has been provided to demolish the unsafe inner section of the old pier.

Parks Victoria is preparing impact assessment reports, including statutory, heritage and marine and coastal implications, to carefully consider the potential impacts of removal and inform the preferred approach and assist in the application for relevant statutory and other approvals. The community will have the opportunity to participate in community engagement as part of the planning and statutory referral stages of the project.

A long-term sustainable approach to the future management of the pier that delivers the best outcome now and for many years to come is the primary goal of the project.

The pier, managed by Parks Victoria, was duplicated in 2011 with a new pier constructed alongside the old between the central vehicle turnaround and the shore. This included constructing a new 3.2 metre wide concrete arm, increasing the pier’s load capacity and improving separation between authorised vehicles and pedestrians.

The timber inner section was closed in April 2020 for public safety due to significant risk of structural failure but was retained to minimise disturbance to marine life while marine growth recolonised on the steel piles of the new pier section. This closure extends from the timber pier's entrance for approximately 180 metres. The full length of the timber inner section has not been closed, allowing access to ladders and moored boats.

The original pier was built in the 1860s and then replaced in 1970. The current day pier retains little of the original materials with the present configuration representative of the former structure. Substantial modifications have taken place that include removal of the tramway, timber railing and seating; replacement of the decking; removal of the landing at the northern end of the pier and alteration of the width and landings. As a result, it is the alignment of the pier rather than the fabric itself that is considered to be of primary heritage significance. The pier is also associated with other foreshore elements including the former cargo shed, slipway, former cable station and timber shed.

Today Flinders Pier, located on Bunurong Sea Country, is a popular place for walking, diving/snorkelling, angling and boating. It is also home to the Western Port aquaculture industry and an important local ports facility for the Port Phillip Sea Pilots.

Flinders Jetty

Frequently asked questions

Is it a pier of jetty?

The technical definition of this type of structure is 'Pier' as it is built on piles with water flowing freely under it.  However, the terms jetty / pier may be used interchangeably.

Why does the inner timber section of pier need to be removed?

The inner timber section of pier is at the end of its structural life and is proposed to be safely removed prior to complete failure or collapse causing a navigational hazard or potentially injuring those beneath it. As the condition of the decking and piles continues to deteriorate due to age and weather exposure, it will become an ongoing risk to public safety and a financial burden. Removal of this section would allow resources to be focused on continual improvement of the concrete deck, berthing facilities and outer timber section extending from the northern landing to the pier head, rather than maintaining an unsafe asset and one that no longer serves a purpose for port operations. Any effort to repair this failing section of pier would be costly and only provide a short-term solution.  


What impact will removing the timber inner section have on the marine life in the area?  

Parks Victoria is committed to protecting the significant marine ecosystem that exists below Flinders Pier. We know many incredible marine species live below the pier, including the Victoria's official marine faunal emblem, the Weedy Seadragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus). Parks Victoria commissioned a Flinders Pier Marine Ecology and Pier Removal Impact Assessment to describe the marine life under the pier and identify any potential impacts of pier removal to the marine life at that location, along with mitigation strategies. It will also inform the methodology and applications for approvals such as the planning permit from the Mornington Peninsula Shire and Marine and Coastal consent from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.    See Latest Updates at top of page for current information.

What impact will removing the timber inner section have on the heritage values of the area?  

Parks Victoria recognises the heritage value the pier contributes to precinct character and is committed to ensuring these values are preserved through appropriate management. While the Flinders Pier (timber and concrete section), is not listed on the Victorian Heritage Register, a portion of the pier is covered under the Mornington Peninsula Heritage Overlay. Any proposed changes or development are subject to Planning Approval from the Mornington Peninsula Shire. Parks Victoria has commissioned a Heritage Impact Assessment to take the significance of this asset into account when considering the proposed removal of the pier and inform the methodology and applications for relevant approvals such as the Mornington Peninsula Heritage Overlay (HO330) planning permit application. This assessment is still underway.   See Latest Updates at top of page for current information.

Why hasn’t/won’t Parks Victoria maintain the timber inner section of the pier?  

In 2010-11, Parks Victoria undertook a $2 million redevelopment at Flinders Pier. This included constructing the 3.2 metre-wide concrete deck parallel to the timber pier, increasing the pier’s load capacity and service to the commercial and recreational fleet. At the time of redevelopment, Parks Victoria did not remove the redundant timber inner section as it still had some service life, with the added benefit of reducing the environmental impact of construction on marine plants and animals while marine growth recolonised on the new piles. The future removal of the inner section was identified as a eventual requirement at that time. A long-term sustainable approach to the future management of the pier that delivers the best outcome now and for many years to come is the primary goal of the project.  


Why not use the funds to repair the pier rather than demolish the old section?   

The older section of pier was rebuilt in the 1970s. Due to sustained exposure to harsh conditions, the life of a timber pier is traditionally 25 – 50 years. The older section of pier has reached the end of its life and failing, having been in place for just over 50 years. Any effort to repair this failing section would be costly and only provide a short-term solution. As the port manager, Parks Victoria has determined this asset is no longer required for its port operations following the construction of the concrete section.  

 
Why has the timber inner section of pier been considered unsafe?

The inner section of the timber pier was closed in April 2020 to protect public safety due to deterioration of the piles and deck, and needs to be removed safely prior to complete failure or collapse. This section has slumped in multiple sections and has been assessed as unsafe for pedestrian and vehicle access with significant risk of structural failure.

Can I still access the end of Flinders Pier?  

Yes. The current closure of part of the timber inner section does not impact access or use of Flinders Pier. Pedestrians and vehicles can use the adjacent concrete deck to access the first landing, then cross over to the structurally sound timber section extending to the pier head to experience the full 327 metre length of the pier.  
 

When will the timber inner section be removed?

Parks Victoria is currently reviewing the potential impacts of removal, including all statutory approval requirements, as well as heritage, marine and coastal, amenity and financial implications to inform the methodology and scope. Removal is subject to statutory planning approvals. The process from planning through to approvals and works is expected to take approximately 12 months.  

Is Flinders Pier heritage listed?  

No, Flinders Pier (old and new section) is not listed on the Victorian Heritage Register.  However, a third-party nomination to include the Flinders Foreshore Precinct, including the timber pier, on the Victorian Heritage Register was accepted by Heritage Victoria in August 2021.  A statutory assessment process under the Heritage Act (2017) is underway to consider whether the foreshore precinct is a place of State significance.  The matter is ultimately determined by the Heritage Council and the full process is likely to take at least six months.  Through the local planning scheme, the Mornington Peninsula Heritage Overlay (HO330), also includes a portion of the pier.  

What is the extent of the heritage value of the pier?  

The original Flinders Pier was built in the 1860s and replaced in the 1970s. The current jetty structure has elements dating back to reconstruction from the 1980s and 90s, and it retains little of the original materials or components representing the 1866-69 construction. The present configuration is only a representation of the former structure. Substantial modifications have taken place that include removal of the tramway, timber railing and seating; replacement of the decking; removal of the landing at the northern end of the pier and alteration of the width and landings. As a result, it is the alignment of the pier rather than the fabric itself that is considered to be its primary heritage significance. The pier is also associated with other foreshore elements including the former cargo shed, slipway, former cable station and timber shed.  

What approvals are required to remove the timber inner section of pier?  

As the pier is subject to a heritage overlay, planning approval to demolish the jetty is required from the relevant statutory planning authority which is the Mornington Peninsula Shire. Marine and Coastal Act Consent from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is also required given the Crown Land status and coastal proximity of the asset. Parks Victoria will also assess whether a referral under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Commonwealth) is required.
 
Is it safe to walk or swim underneath the closed section of pier?  

Yes, for now. Closure of part of the timber inner section has removed loading on the pier reducing the likelihood of significant or catastrophic structural failure in the immediate future.  

How are the works being funded?  

The Victorian Government has committed $24.4 million through its Piers and Jetties Stimulus Packages to upgrading and maintaining key jetties and piers across Victoria. These projects were announced as part of the government’s $2.7 billion Building Works economic stimulus initiative and form a key part of the $328.4 million Victorian Government investment in critical freight, boating, public transport and roads maintenance which will create or support more than 600 jobs as we recover from the coronavirus crisis.  

The jetty and pier projects include:  

• Better Piers and Waterside Facilities package: $11.6 million for upgrades and maintenance of piers in Port Phillip including Altona, Middle Brighton, Queenscliff South Piers, and the demolition of the inner section of the old Flinders Jetty in Western Port.  
• Portarlington Harbour Upgrade: $9.6 million upgrade of Portarlington Pier.  
• Pier and Jetty Maintenance package: $3.2 million upgrade of Rye Pier, Port Welshpool Marginal Wharf, Portland Trawler Wharf pontoon and Tooradin Jetty.  

This $24.4 million investment will create local jobs, provide an economic injection to regional areas and see a long-term boost for the fishing, aquaculture and tourism industries as we rebuild from the coronavirus pandemic.  


Other information

Parks Victoria is the local port manager for Port Phillip, Western Port and Port Campbell, with the three local ports combined receiving approximately 80 million visits a year, and include 263,000 hectares of waterway, marine protected areas, channels, piers and jetties, moorings and aids to navigation.

Related information - places to see Flinders Jetty.

Watch the video Flinders Pier - an underwater discovery

Downloads

Final Report - Flinders Pier Marine Ecology and Pier Removal Impact Assessment (2021)

Key Findings Fact Sheet - Flinders Pier Marine Ecology and Pier Removal Impact Assessment

Infographic Key Findings 

Media Release - Flinders Pier Marine Ecology and Pier Removal Impact Assessment findings

Map showing the distribution of Weedy Seadragons along Australian coast and at Flinders Pier

Flinders Pier Community Update 1 May 2021

Flinders Pier Community Update 2 August 2021

Flinders Pier Community Update 3 September 2021

 

Related references

Victorian National Parks Association - Reefwatch

Determining the specificity of fish habitat relationships in Western Port (2013) - Greg Jenkins, Tim Kenner, Andrew Brown

Understanding Western Port Report (2011) - Melbourne Water

Flinders Foreshore Reserve Coastal Management Plan (2010) - URS

Flinders Pier and Foreshore Coastal Management Plan Ecology Baseline Survey (2007)

 

Stay up to date

For project updates, please subscribe to the Flinders Pier project mailing list.

For general enquiries email info@parks.vic.gov.au or you can call us on 13 1963. 

 

                        Juvenile Magpie Morwong and Bluethroat Wrasse

Weedy Seadragon amongst seagrass (Amphibolis antartica)   Juvenile Magpie Morwong and Bluethroat Wrasse

                      

Smooth Stingray      Diver under Flinders Pier

Images supplied by CEE Pty Ltd.

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