The greening of Southbank is a step closer to reality following the endorsement of the draft concept plan for Southbank Boulevard and Dodds Street by the Future Melbourne Committee on Tuesday, 18 July, 2017.
The $34 million plan to reclaim bitumen for parks within Southbank is borne from a need to provide necessary public open space within Southbank, which is Melbourne’s most densely populated suburb with a population of 20,000 residents. This is forecast to rise by 175 per cent over the next 15 years.
With over 96 per cent of Southbank’s population living in apartments with little access to outdoor space - Southbank has the least amount of public open space per person in Melbourne at just 2.5 sqm per person - it has become even more critical that projects such as Southbank Boulevard are undertaken to achieve Melbourne’s open space target of 21 sqm per person.
The creation of new public open space in Southbank by using Southbank Boulevard is a joint State Government and City of Melbourne initiative as outlined in the Southbank Structure Plan (2010), the Melbourne Arts Precinct Blueprint (2011) and Council’s Open Space Strategy (2012).
Southbank Boulevard is suitable for a green makeover due to a decrease in traffic numbers - falling from 40,000 – 50,000 vehicles a day to 13,000 vehicles a day following Queensbridge Square's opening in 2001 which removed Southbank Boulevard’s connection to the CBD.
The project will be delivered over three stages beginning from next year and upon completion will provide 2.5ha of public realm, 1.05km of dedicated bicycle lanes, and 40 percent tree canopy cover as per the Urban Forest Strategy target.
The Draft Concept Plan has been shaped and informed by community engagement. A three phase community engagement plan including key stakeholders and traditional owners plan was prepared in 2014. Phase one engagement took place in November 2015 followed by phase two in September 2016. Following the last phase of community engagement, it was agreed that a Southbank Boulevard and Dodds Street Draft Concept Plan would be displayed in 2017.
- City of Melbourne, Future Melbourne Planning Report
The City of Melbourne is also progressing with Boyd Park as part of the ongoing redevelopment of the former JH Boyd School site despite deciding not to proceed with the sale and redevelopment of part of the land to Cairo Melbourne Pty. Ltd. Council has committed $1.7 million towards the project and will be proceeding with the park design based on feedback received during the 2014 community engagement. The old school building located to the rear of the community hub building, which is temporarily being used as office space will be demolished to make way for the new park.
A new tender process will commence for the sale and redevelopment of the western portion of the site next to the King’s Way overpass at 132 Kavanagh to pave the way for a mixed-use development. According to council an updated design brief for the development will be released to the market later this year.
Further projects that will go some way to restoring the balance of public open space are the new terracing park as part of the Melbourne Square development and the public benefits associated with Crown's One Queensbridge Street which will see the transformation of Queensbridge Street and Queensbridge Square. $15 million dollars will also be directed towards the rejuvenation of Sandridge Bridge into a New York-style High Line.
In the meantime the City of Melbourne have put together a video providing further background about the Southbank Boulevard and Dodds Street Concept Plan.