Dandenong corridor Community Open Space Expert Panel report submitted to government

The Caulfield to Dandenong level crossing removal project's Community Open Space Expert Panel (COSEP) has delivered its report to the Public Transport Minister, Jacinta Allan, outlining its recommendations for the spaces that will be created as part of the grade separation project.

The COSEP was charged with the duty of reviewing and providing advice on general landscape design and planning, proposal community spaces, the interface between community spaces and the shared use pathway to be built under the elevated track, car parking, public space in the station precincts and maintenance.

The panel, chaired by chief executive of the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, has 9 key recommendations which range from using vegetation and trees which forms a strong identity through the linear park to a crime prevention and safety strategy that is seamlessly integrated into the overall design of the linear park.

A focus on the user experience is key. Image: LXRA

In the report's cover letter to Jacinta Allan, Professor Tim Entwisle provides an insight into the passion locals displayed across the various consultation sessions.

As you would expect, trees and vegetation drew a passionate response.

There was much support for using River Red Gums as a motif along the length of the linear park – not to the exclusion of other plants, as it was accepted there are some places where native vegetation would not be appropriate.

We were advised by the project team that opportunities for the re-planting of River Red Gums were limited due to operational and safety constraints within the rail corridor.

Subsequently COSEP explored alternatives such as other local trees species providing some of the same functions and aesthetics. Linking the plantings and landscape to neighbouring parks was strongly supported, as was the establishment of connections with existing street trees.

Where possible the group wanted plantings to be diverse and of mixed age, to assist with plant health and the impacts of climate change. It was felt the landscape design could be bold in places and should not be subservient to the other elements of the project.

Professor Tim Entwisle, Chair COSEP
Heatherton Road level crossing and new community spaces - Image: LXRA

One recommendation that is sure to wet the appetite of any urbanist is to design the station precincts so as they can be used as venues to host community festivals/events to bring together the local community and traders - not simply used for car parking.

To give a flavour of the discussions, in an early meeting we discussed the linear park and the alignment of the shared user path, plus some general issues around connectivity.

COSEP raised important matters around safety, heritage and local history, much of which has been incorporated into the design. Meeting later, we considered car parking, accepting that there were complex trade-offs to be made to meet the needs of varied stakeholders.  

A key message from COSEP was to not view car parking areas as ‘single use’ – that is, look for ways to partition them in time and space so that the community can gain additional value from them. 

Professor Tim Entwisle, Chair COSEP

To view the report, see the Level Crossing Removal Authority's website.

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