MCG redevelopment, Jolimont railyards, Fed Square East, Jolimont rail corridor deck

MCG's decking proposal could be the catalyst for Fed Square East?

A topic which rears its head at least once a year is the decking of the Jolimont railyards as a means of providing a stronger connection between the Melbourne CBD and the Yarra River, while adding to the city's open space network.

Announced during last week's sporting investment by the State Government was a $1b proposal to deck the rail corridor between the MCG and Melbourne Park, and unite the two halves of Melbourne's Sporting Precinct.

The feasibility study - which investigated a range of options for how this might be achieved - was initiated and funded by the Melbourne Cricket Club and the MCG Trust as part of a strategy to address safety and security concerns. However, during extensive consultation with multiple key stakeholders ultimately evolved into a study for a range of development options within the precinct.

The study has been tabled with the Victorian Government for consideration as they assess the future vision of Melbourne and the sporting precinct, but at this point in time no funding has been requested, according to the MCG Trust.

Among the concepts being considered as part of a two-stage proposal are:

  • Elevated pedestrian paths stretching from the MCG to Richmond Station, designed to separate pedestrians and vehicles, and to improve traffic flows.
  • Decking of the railway tracks between the MCG and Melbourne and Olympic Park, with open space able to be utilised for live sites and event activation.
  • Creation of new public open space, parkland and other facilities to service the precinct.
How the potential decking project may look. Image: MCG Trust

The development, if it were to proceed, would unite the two halves of the sporting precinct, currently divided by the Jolimont rail corridor, to enable greater utilisation of the precinct, attract more and better events to Melbourne and continue to generate a public legacy for the city well into the future.

- MCG Trust

If indeed the project proceeds within the next decade as envisioned, options should be explored for the remainder of the Jolimont rail corridor from the MCG through to Fed Square. During its tenure, the former Napthine Government invited interested parties to submit proposals for what is known as Fed Square East, which was eventually abandoned under the Andrews Government.

The Fed Square East site comprises a total of 3.3 hectares, with approximately 2.3 hectares located above rail lines and one hectare largely used for car parking. It is bounded by Federation Square/Russell Street to the west, Flinders Street to the north, Batman Avenue to The East and Birrarung Marr to the south.

The successful proponent's scheme would effectively replace another design conceived by LAB Architecture and OCULUS Landscape Architecture and Urban Design for a key piece of public infrastructure, with vital open space and an extension of Fed Square.

One of the many proposals over the years for Fed Square East. Image: OCULUS

Due to the complexities of decking over the live rail corridor, private investment was sought by the Napthine Government for what would otherwise be a costly exercise for any Government to undertake. As such intense development was expected with the balance of the site dedicated to the public realm with the potential for high-rise commercial and residential towers and development extending beyond Batman Avenue down to the Sporting precinct.

The now-adopted C270 amendment within the Capital City Zone effectively renders any such plan redundant, with building heights capped due to overshadowing controls for Birrarung Marr meaning any significant and intensive high-rise development would need to occur east of Batman Avenue and along the southern edge of Flinders/Wellington Streets.

Keep an eye out for a future Urban Melbourne that will look at a study for the rail corridor between Fed Square and the MCG.

2 comments

George D's picture

How much would it cost? $100m? $300m? $500m? $1b?

There are a few other places where covering a rail trench and creating a 'bridge' between islanded spaces would be very useful for the community.

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theboynoodle's picture

I see why bridging between the MCG and tennis center has appeal.. but I'm not quite sure it serves any purpose other than making everything a bit nicer. Which is not a lot for $1b.

There's no great need to unite the sporting precinct. It's not as if there's a constant flow of human traffic as people flit between an event at the MCG over to one at Hisense or Aami park. The existing bridges over the railway are hardly at capacity.

Further, there's no lack of open space available for events and/or commercial opportunities. The tennis center has (and uses) the oval.. the MCG has a generous concourse and parkland (that's given to car parking) beyond.

Fed Square East makes more sense.. but that part of town isn't short of open space either... so it's, very much, a 'nice to have'.

If we're going to spunk a load of money putting parks over railways then surely Southern Cross is by far the worthiest location?

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