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Yarra River Business Association

12 Nov 2015

Activating our river precinct

With YRBA executive officer Tim Bracher

Congratulations to the HQ Group for installing Arbory Afloat on the river during the Cup Carnival period. As well as impressing visitors and locals, we hope it has shown our local and state authorities that with a bit of entrepreneurial flare and some flexibility from the bureaucracy the city section of the river can be activated.

It has been a 10-year saga to get the on-water potential of our river recognised by State Government.

After 25 years of quality land-based development, the on-water offering is still constrained by a raft of 20th century legislation that was drawn-up when the Yarra was still regarded as Melbourne’s major drain and its only tourism importance was a small stretch upstream of Princes Bridge.

As you will read elsewhere in this paper, we think we are at the tail end of a 12-month intensive engagement with government to get Spring St to recognise the importance of the waterway and to co-operatively build a new era of governance for it.

This new era would involve excellent communication, transparency, equity and a willingness to work with the private sector to activate the waterway on a daily basis. It may also make life easier for our river tour and ferry operators, who endure a raft of stifling legislation and imposts, which severely reduces their livelihood and discourages investment back into their vessels.

We have recently re-engaged with the State Government on another saga – the refurbishment of the Flinders Street Station pedestrian underpass.

The Premier’s announcement of a $100 million redevelopment of the station is most welcome, but we have to ensure that a creative approach to improving the amenity and cleanliness of the underpass is included in the scope of works.

Many of the 35,000 weekday workers in Southbank use the underpass, and during the past decade it has become the second busiest access point for visitors to our precinct, after Princes Bridge.

Other exciting projects on which the business association is collaborating at the moment is the City of Melbourne’s redevelopment of Southbank Boulevard into a major linear park. It will link St Kilda Road with the Yarra and part of the work will be modifying Queensbridge Square, possibly revamping the “love it or hate it” red stairs.

We are also pleased to be involved with the City and Mirvac on planning and design for a pocket park at Riverside Quay. Some exciting concepts have emerged for the space as a result of community consultation and it is hoped the end product may soften the harshness of the area and provide a place of quieter contemplation for residents and workers.

There’s plenty happening as always. If you want to catch-up with the latest, come along to our final business luncheon for the year on 19 November in Arts Centre Melbourne, when new City of Melbourne CEO Ben Rimmer will answer questions about the precinct in a Q&A format.

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