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Yarra River Business Association

07 Aug 2019

Sharing our “big ideas”

The Yarra River Big Ideas Forum will be held on Thursday, August 15 in Melbourne Town Hall.

All places at the forum were quickly subscribed, so people obviously see it as a great opportunity to sit down for a few hours to discuss the key issues and opportunities facing this section of the city and its waterway during the next 10 to 20 years.

With the ever-changing pace of life, it’s not often that we get the chance to pause and review just what is important to us; what we need to protect; what needs to be fixed or improved; and what new ideas might there be to increase the amenity and recreation of the area.

While the river precinct may look “complete” as a result of much private and public sector effort over the years, there are still key things that need to be done. Things that readily spring to mind are the pedestrian access to the river under Flinders Street Station, the entire question of better access to Northbank along Flinders St, enlivening Freshwater Place, the huge potential of Banana Alley Vaults, the arts plaza concept for Sturt St and its connectivity with the river, better presentation of our beautiful bridges at night, separation of cycling on Southbank, etc, etc.

No doubt these and many other issues will be aired on August 15, but we hope that there will also be many new ideas that can inject new life and vigour into the lower Yarra River. Just one project idea – Yarra Pools – has been discussed for some time and, if planned and executed correctly, it could transform the long-neglected Northbank.

The question of helicopter access also needs to be resolved, not to mention better storm water management and litter entrapment. I imagine that the three hours devoted to the forum will not be long enough, but it will be a major start to what we hope will be ongoing master planning.

What we need is a document that can be picked up by anyone who needs to know the state-of-play at the moment, what the short- to medium-term plans are for the future, and what opportunities might be for them. Such a report needs to balance the needs of major user groups, especially business, residents and visitors.

This Yarra River Business Association is in its 20th year of operation. When we look back over that time, we can see the results of our many years of promoting and advocating. Key agencies are starting to share our passion and vision, especially Parks Victoria (PV). In recent times PV has embraced the river’s potential and is now working to assist rather than hinder some great ideas, as well as overhauling its governance of the waterway.

John Forman - President

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