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“An excellent solution”: New Southbank basketball court to fill void until 2025

“An excellent solution”: New Southbank basketball court to fill void until 2025
David Schout

A new temporary basketball court will be built in Southbank to replace a recently demolished space nearby at Boyd Park that was much loved by the local community.

City of Melbourne councillors voted in favour of a new temporary court at the corner of Kavanagh and Balston streets, which will remain in place until a permanent play court at the Kings Way northern undercroft is finalised in 2025.

In 2022, two temporary basketball courts were demolished to make way for large-scale private development: the “Underpark” on Queensbridge St, and the popular court at Boyd Park.

It left Southbank, already a suburb with very limited access to open spaces, without a nearby option for active play.

At a November 2022 council meeting, Southbank locals made it clear that the loss of sports courts was detrimental to the local area.

In response, the council prepared four options for pop-up play courts in Southbank, including temporarily removing existing green space at Sturt Street Reserve or Boyd Park.

However, it settled on the space within the Melbourne Square development site, in partnership with developer OSK Property.

OSK will offer up its land and pay to deliver the basketball court which, according to the council, would remain there until the under croft was delivered.

The new court is set to be built in the next six months and will be located around 100 metres from the former Boyd courts site.

Speaking at the March 21 Future Melbourne Committee (FMC) meeting, Southbank Residents’ Association (SRA) president Tony Penna commended the move to replace the now demolished Boyd courts, which were a “massive asset to the community”.

Mr Penna said locals were against temporarily turning remaining Boyd Park green space into a pop-up court.

An SRA survey across a variety of channels attracted one of their largest ever responses, with 70 per cent of respondents against the option.

Also speaking at the March 21 FMC meeting, vice-president of fellow residents’ group Southbank3006 Jannine Pattison similarly praised the initiative.

 

“This is an excellent solution, and council should be commended on their innovation in obtaining the commitment from the developer to assist with social infrastructure in the area,” she said.

 

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the move was a “great demonstration of partnership between government, community and private sector”, and said the fact that the new court would be “proximate to the court that has gone” was a positive.

Developer PDG removed the much-loved courts at Boyd Park in November to make way for the 42-storey “Boyd Village” which will be home to 434 build-to-rent (BTR) apartments.

Construction on the development began in February.

“[Locals] absolutely loved and appreciated [the court], and it’s certainly been clear to us that it is a demonstrated need for the community,” Cr Capp explained.

“But unfortunately, on the basis of decisions made previously, there is a development happening there now. I say ‘unfortunately’ only in terms of residents feeling let down by that project, but actually in the delivery of it there will be more affordable housing made available, there will be more market housing made available, and there’ll be more community space made available in this very special part of Melbourne.”

Fellow councillors paid tribute to the local action and passion that led to a positive outcome for Southbank.

“It’s been a community-led response and I think it’s been fantastic to see the tenacity that’s come from the local community and the value that’s been placed on these kind of facilities … it’s great to see there’s so much local engagement,” Cr Davydd Griffiths said.

Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece added; “This is a great outcome, and an example of a council that listens and acts. We heard loud and clear at that community forum that the problems regarding basketball courts could not have been clearer.”

He later told Southbank News that, at this stage, the plan was for one court, but the council was still finalising designs in conjunction with OSK and Cox Architecture, which he thanked.

Cr Reece said that there would likely be stepped seating and landscaped areas around the court.

“I do need to stress that this is a temporary solution,” he said.

“The basketball court will not be permanent, but it will provide vital supporting infrastructure until the permanent northern undercroft site is finished. But for now, it’s the perfect place to put new playing courts … we know the work doesn’t stop there. We are continuing to investigate every option available for further sports infrastructure and more green space around Southbank.” •

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