University Square's expansion a step closer

The City of Melbourne at its meeting on Tuesday the 27th of March will be presented with a proposal which forms a significant cog in the wheel of tasks required to expand University Square, as foreshadowed back in October 2017.

The specific proposal to go before the council meeting is to discontinue (close) parts of Leicester Street and all of Barry Street, which form the existing eastern and western boundaries of University Square, to traffic and car parking.

University Square's masterplan was adopted in December 2016 and outlined multiple principles for its expansion however the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority will require the use of the streets during the construction of the Parkville station underneath Grattan Street.

Tree planning gets significant priority as the council estimated many of the elm trees in University square only have 1-5 years worth of useful life expectancy in them - this audit was conducted in 2012 after the millennium drought concluded.

Trees will be progressively replaced so as not all elm trees are removed at once and the replacements will include a diverse mix of deciduous and evergreen trees.  Both native and exotic species will eventually replace the elms in University Square.

MMRA Submission to proposal to continue Barry and Leicester Streets. Image: City of Melbourne

Closing Barry Street and Leicester street is necessary to increase available green space yet at the same time, as City of Melbourne has done on other sites, the council will install infrastructure for rainwater harvesting.

The Melbourne Metro Rail Authority (MMRA) made a submission stating the land which Barry Street and Leicester Street occupied will be used during the construction of Parkville Station underneath Grattan Street and subsequently requested that the City of Melbourne not discontinue two small sections of Barry and Leicester Streets which lie to either side of the University Square northern plaza.

Councils have processes which allow them to close streets and if the proposal is adopted by the City of Melbourne, the land not required for the Melbourne Metro project will revert to crown land which will be managed through a council-appointed management committee.

Leicester Street, which is proposed to become a 'road within a park' - narrowing the existing roadway to 5 metres, allowing only northbound traffic and installing new cycle paths - will be the first part of the greenspace's expansion.

Barry Street will be enveloped, and subject to another planning permit process, once the MMRA has completed its work on the Parkville station.

To view the University Square master plan, see the Participate Melbourne website.

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