“A good compromise”: Metro Tunnel urged to implement council’s Domain priorities

By Spencer Fowler Steen

The City of Port Phillip (CoPP) has prioritised the retention of on-street parking and safe access in and out of existing buildings around Anzac Station in its latest submission on the Domain Precinct Plan amid community concern.

During a council meeting on October 20, the councillors unanimously endorsed its submission in response to the Cross Yarra Partnership’s (CYP) amended development plan for the Domain Precinct, a document released in September which received backlash from nearby residents.

The Domain Precinct, which is an immediate continuation of Southbank Village, is bordered by St Kilda Rd, Dorcas St and Kings Way (up to the St Kilda Rd and Toorak Rd intersection).

The Metro Tunnel Project (MTP) is constructing a new underground rail station called Anzac Station within the Domain Precinct.

Set to open by 2025, the station will relieve pressure on St Kilda Rd, Melbourne’s busiest tram corridor, and will be used by 40,000 people each day in 2031 with 33,000 jobs and 17,000 residents located within 800 metres.

Chairman of the owners’ corporation (OC) for Botanica at 400 St Kilda Rd, Gary Buck, said that although residents were “not delighted” with the design for the station, the OC was “particularly happy” with how the CoPP had engaged with the local community.

“Our building is within two metres of the new Anzac Station box, so we are very heavily impacted by the changes [in the amended development plan],” he said at the council meeting on October 20.

“They’ve [the CoPP] clearly understood and engaged with the local community and we feel the resulting submission is very sound and a good compromise for all the conflicting issues and we strongly support this submission.”

The development plan prepared by CYP – the joint venture design and construction contractor for Rail Projects Victoria (RPV) – is a legal requirement of the Metro Tunnel Project and must be approved by the Minister for Planning prior to construction.

It presents the scope and extent of the built form of CYP’s work in the Domain Precinct, which includes Anzac Station, a new pedestrian underpass linking Albert Road Reserve and the Shrine of Remembrance with the underground station, and a new “super-tram” stop on St Kilda Rd south of Domain Rd.

It also includes the reinstatement of a relocated South African Soldiers Memorial within Albert Road Reserve, the realignment of St Kilda Rd between Dorcas St and Toorak Rd, and an expanded and improved Albert Road Reserve.

The original Draft Domain Precinct Development plan was made public in November 2017.

Following a submission from the council on the draft plan in December 2017, the Minister for Planning approved the current Domain Precinct Plan in 2018.

However, the plan came under fire from locals, including the G12 Domain Precinct Resident Group, which said the plan would negatively impact amenity.

At a 2019 council meeting, nine speakers verbalised grievances over traffic congestion, a lack of safe cycling infrastructure and the removal of residents’ carparking.

The amended Domain Precinct Development Plan was then released by CYP for public consultation in September this year for a period of three weeks, which outlined how the MTP construction works would be delivered.

Working closely with RPV, CYP, the City of Melbourne and other stakeholders, the CoPP has outlined additional and outstanding Domain Precinct priorities to be addressed before final Ministerial approval is issued.

They include maximising the retention of on-street parking spaces, providing safe and convenient access in and out of existing buildings, minimising the size of buildings and the creation of public parking spaces on Albert Rd.

Other priorities include the provision of an at-grade crossing on St Kilda Rd for bike riders between Albert and Domain roads and the Shrine of Remembrance, implementation of a safer 40km/h speed limit on St Kilda Rd and minimum tree plot depths to ensure trees can be planted in front of residential buildings.

Speaking at the October 20 council meeting, South Melbourne resident Karen Banes urged CYP and RPV to engage with residents to resolve issues identified in the council’s submission.

“I submit that I and my fellow neighbours at Domain Hill in Albert Rd will be severely and negatively impacted if the amendments being sought by CYP are approved without modification by the minister,” she said.

“I congratulate council officers for their draft submission and the inclusion as highest priorities of the retention of on-street parking spaces and provision of safe and convenient access of existing buildings. This is considered critical for our future amenity and liveability.”

Cr Peter Martin said that it was an “excellent” piece of work by the council and picked up on “just about every point” that had been raised through consultation in the previous few months.

“In particular I note that parking in St Kilda Rd has been a huge issue of contention and many of us on council received a lot of lobbying by residents of St Kilda Rd urging council to do everything it can to maintain as much parking as possible,” he said.

“And that’s one of the major points in this report that our council has produced.”

Asked by Southbank News whether MTP and RPV would work with the CoPP to achieve the priorities, a spokesperson for RPV said it had been working closely with the council, as well as Heritage Victoria, the Shrine of Remembrance Trustees and local residents over a number of years throughout the planning process.

“The project will deliver more services and see travel times cut by up to 50 minutes a day for people heading to and from the Domain Precinct,” the spokesperson said.

“We’re carefully considering all the feedback we’ve received from the community and stakeholders, and we’ll be reporting back on how that feedback has been incorporated into planning for the station precinct.”

It’ understood that a fully accessible tram “super stop” will be located in the middle of St Kilda Rd, connecting passengers to the underground station below.

To keep cyclists safely separated from road traffic and public transport users, kerbside bike lanes will also be built along St Kilda Rd in each direction between Dorcas St and Toorak Rd.

Public feedback on the amended Development Plan for the Domain Precinct closed on October 13.

The MTP team is currently reviewing all feedback received during the public display period for the Anzac Station Precinct Development Plan.

Southbank News understands CYP will release a summary of the key issues raised by the community and how this feedback has been considered by the project in the design development process.

The project team will also brief the CoPP on the response to its specific feedback.

The team will then prepare a submission to go to the Minister for Planning, including a summary of feedback provided by the community and how the project has responded to it before final approval •

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