CoM's open space agenda receives a boost with plans unveiled for two projects

City of Melbourne (CoM) have ramped up their push to create additional public open space in two key locations. Announcements were made last week regarding a significant stretch of Southbank and Carlton's University Square.

Both intended developments are now available for viewing and comment via Participate Melbourne, Council's online platform which allows the community to better understand and contribute to the decisions that shape the inner city.

First up, Southbank's dearth of ground level cohesion and activation will in part be addressed with CoM releasing further information and initial plans regarding the intended transformation of Southbank Boulevard and Dodds Street, with the aim of creating a swathe of open space. This will be achieved by shifting traffic patterns and partially closing Southbank Boulevard.

As a result, 2.5 hectares of public open space is set to be created along the southern side of Southbank Boulevard, starting from the Melbourne Recital Centre and continuing to the banks of the Yarra River.

Southbank is set for major change at ground level. Image: City of Melbourne

Lawn areas, new trees, children's play spaces, improved pedestrian connectivity and at least one kilometre of new bike lanes are slated as part of the $16 million overhaul, with traffic still accepted along Southbank Boulevard. Dodds Street is also earmarked to become a public space as part of the development, with the aim of creating performing and events spaces.

We know that backyards in the inner city are shrinking and more people are living in apartment blocks. In Southbank, 96 per cent of residents live in high-rise apartments with little access to outdoor space.

Our plan to transform the boulevard will ensure that nearby residents and workers are able to enjoy more open spaces for recreation, to meet each other and for public gatherings and relaxation.

Arron Wood, Chair of the City of Melbourne’s Environment Portfolio

With works intended to begin during 2017, feedback for the proposal can now be given via the project's Participate Melbourne webpage.

A remodelled University Square. Image: City of Melbourne

North of the CBD and University Square fronting Pelham Street and Grattan Street is set for change with CoM releasing details of a draft master plan for the overhaul as seen above.

In conjunction with the State Government and University of Melbourne, the square will be transformed with a decidedly more green slant. Expected in the redevelopment of University Square are 253 additional trees, 8,700sqm of expanded public open space, a water terrace, biodiversity corridor and public art installations.

All three parties have agreed to jointly fund the project which will also service the new Parkville rail station upon its completion. During previous community engagement sessions, the vast majority of respondents nominated closing Barry Street and narrowing Leicester Street in order to increase open space by up to 40 per cent.

With an average age of 25, Carlton has the highest student population in Melbourne. The expanded square will provide more spaces to cater for residents, students and visitors. This includes offering more active spaces with barbecues, solar-powered charging stations, Wi-Fi, permanent chess boards and movable seats.

Arron Wood, Chair of the City of Melbourne’s Environment Portfolio

University Square's full master plan will be available on Participate Melbourne from today.

A remodelled University Square. Image: City of Melbourne


philip ward's picture

Disappointing that COM pick up the failure of
'96 per cent of residents live in high-rise apartments with little access to outdoor space'
perhaps public open space contributions need to be re-visited?

phil ward

Rohan Leppert's picture


They have been revisited - Southbank open space contributions now 7.06% land or cash equivalent. Since gazetting of C209 in February this year. Cash from the open space fund is helping to pay for reclaiming Southbank Boulevard bitumen for parkland.

Erik's picture

The answer is simple.
1. Bury the rest of the city loop. it will cut down the noise and make the city more livable.

2. Turn the existing elevated part of the City loop into a NYC style Highline.... below it, east of the Aquarium, it could easily be turned into an open air market. This would bring commerce and people into these areas, rather than just the homeless.

theboynoodle's picture

I'm pretty sure that burying the elevated park of the city loop is anything but simple - not least because there are two fairly significant railway stations that currently operate on a distinctly above-ground basis.

As for a 'NYC style Highline'.. even if we were to try and copy that (along with every other city in the world that apparently wants a 'NYC style Highline;.. which I find odd.. are other cities also thinking about building replicas of the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty??) that bit of track in Melbourne is fundamentally different. The High Line is not just a park on an elevated railway, and I'm not sure why a market on an elevated park between Flinders St and Southern Cross would be any more popular than one on the ample ground-level park that already exists.

Aussie Steve's picture

The City of Melbourne must be commended for developing such wonderful outcomes for the community. These design principles and plans are well thought-out and will contribute vastly to the experience of these high traffic/car dominated areas becoming more green open spaces for pedestrians.

3000's picture

Given the way Southbak has gone they are doing what they can, it's disappointing it's taken until now to realise that Southbank is in desperate need of an overhaul.

Adam Ford's picture

You can forget "pretty sure". Sinking the railway viaduct WAS investigated as part of the loop build.
It is ridiculously prohibitive to tunnel something THAT CLOSE to and parrallel to the Yarra.
AND you still require an above ground connection to get freight through from Spencer Street Yards.

And yep. Every new urban initiative that references the Highline makes me reach for my revolver. Just use even a tiny sliver of imagination and stop trying to coast on the coattails of the ONE urban renewal initiative that everyone on the planet thinks is cool.

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