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Delays set to continue at Southbank Boulevard

05 Feb 2020

Delays set to continue at Southbank Boulevard Image

Works to complete the current stage of Southbank Boulevard’s new linear park could continue for another 12 to 18 months.

The City of Melbourne’s near $50 million transformation of Southbank Boulevard was first struck by delays early last year as issues arose between a number of agencies involved in the project.

While the roadway between St Kilda and City roads is now reopen, it is understood landscaping and construction of the park and recreational spaces could continue well into 2021.

Speaking to Southbank News in September last year, the City of Melbourne’s director of city design Professor Rob Adams had said that while the delays weren’t ideal, the council had been “ambitious” with the project from the outset.

“We’re running four to five months behind. Do I like that? No, I hate it,” he said.

“But what happened there, and we have to take some of the responsibility for this, we were ambitious to get the project started and we had all the documentation ready. We didn’t have all the approvals there but we had put all the approvals in. There was sufficient time for those to happen.”

“We’ve rescheduled the program. Now all of those [other] niggling projects are out of the way and this project has momentum again.”

“We’ve still got landscaping to go but that will happen in stages. Where we hit problems was dealing with tram infrastructure. Part of our problem has also been all the private development happening on our doorstep.”

Having to coordinate with developments at Australia 108 and the Adina Apartment Hotel has, as Professor Adams pointed out, presented challenges to completing the project on schedule. However, with road works now complete, a council spokesperson said the construction of the new open space outside the Melbourne Recital Centre would be completed by March.

Construction of the project’s largest new space outside the ABC is also expected to get underway soon, which will include a hardstand and lawn areas, along with seating, planting and trees.

Southbank Residents’ Association (SRA) president Tony Penna said the delays were unfortunate.

“It is very unfortunate with the delays we have there. I understand that a lot of that was out of the City of Melbourne’s control but I believe there were a lot of lessons learned there with how they manage projects of this magnitude,” he said.

“It is great to see the boulevard now connecting back to City Road and the majority of the works very inconvenient to the residents, along with the noise, now finished. We look forward to it being completed but we believe that sadly, it is still another 12 to 18 months away.”

Once the section between St Kilda and City roads is completed sometime next year, the project will move onto the section of Southbank Boulevard between City Rd and Southbank Promenade, as well as Dodds St, between Southbank Boulevard and Grant St.

As first reported in the March 2018 edition of Southbank News, the project is also tied up with a multi-million-dollar public arts project, which was driven by renowned Irish arts academic Vaari Claffey.

Ms Claffey spent two weeks in Southbank in August 2017 undertaking research to inform her strategy for the program. Having put four major public artworks for Southbank out to tender, the council had originally said details of the winning artist for the first major art installation in Dodds St would be released in August the following year.

However, with the transformation of Southbank Boulevard having fallen behind schedule, a council spokesperson last month said all details of the major art commission remained “commercial in confidence.”

“The public art commissions will be integrated where possible with the landscape works throughout Southbank, in accordance with the Public Art Strategy,” the spokesperson said.

“During extensive public consultation, the Southbank community identified public art as a critical component of the project. Council is committed to delivering this project to meet these expectations.” •


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