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Southbank Residents’ Association

10 Oct 2019

Southbank Residents’ Association Image

When is a footpath wide enough?!

Now that spring has arrived, I have been walking a lot more around Southbank.

It was lovely to see the beautiful bluestone footpath in the front of Southbank’s newest building - Southbank Place at 60 Kavanagh St. Although, this footpath seemed a little peculiar.

As I was making my way along Kavanagh St, suddenly I felt a little claustrophobic when the footpath changed from asphalt to the bluestone as suddenly there was very little room to pass oncoming pedestrians and navigate the typical footpath obstacles of bicycles, scooters and motorbikes. It then dawned on me that the footpath width had dropped by 50cm. The entirety of Kavanagh St has a 2.5-metre-wide footpath, except in the front of Southbank Place where it drops to two metres.

I wrote to council to ask what width it had approved and whether the developer had indeed built it to the correct width. I was surprised with its response …

Apparently the two-metre width was approved “to protect existing street trees from tree root damage that can occur when installing a new bluestone footpath. Council added that it maximised “the green permeable grass in those areas.”

I wasn’t sure what to think when I received that reasoning as I can think of a number of very recent bluestone footpaths where the bluestone has gone within 30cm of the tree base. Moreover, what is the difference between asphalt and bluestone? The asphalt was previously 2.5 metres wide and the trees didn’t seem to mind. Whereas, this footpath is over two metres away. We were only needing another 50cm to make it consistent with the rest of Kavanagh St. Moreover, the “maximising the green permeable grass” reasoning really threw me as nearly all the grass that was planted by the developer is almost dead already, and we have just finished winter. There is no reticulation, so I guess that isn’t going to assist much either. But the real confusing part with that is that council informed owners’ corporations of Epic, Victoria Tower and Sentinel (88 – 118 Kavanagh St, respectively) that the nature strips on the footpath in front of their buildings wasn’t conducive to grass, owing to the shade throughout most of the day. Council then replaced the grass that was there with hardy native species, which by all accounts, seem to be flourishing. So, I wonder what council officers think is so different about this section of footpath which is going to allow the green permeable grass to grow (and without water).

I wonder if the two-metre approval was an oversight from council and now, in hindsight, it is somehow trying to justify the decision as it didn’t want to admit they got it wrong.

I guess time will tell, but in the meantime, I feel for those who need to use that section of the footpath as at times it becomes really congested as a result of the reduced width combined with the scooters, motorbikes and bicycles.

Did you know that Southbank Residents’ Association (SRA) is a committee of volunteers from our community? We try our best to represent the interests of our residents, but without members, our voice is merely a whisper. If you are not currently a member of SRA, we would certainly welcome your interest. It’s only $10 per year and you can have peace-of-mind that you too are doing your bit for the community by showing your support. Please visit our website to sign up or follow us on Facebook /SouthbankResidents


Tony Penna


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