Greenline plans progress, but no room for pool

Greenline plans progress, but no room for pool
David Schout

By David Schout

Final plans for a four-kilometre green trail from Birrarung Marr to the Bolte Bridge have been released, but the City of Melbourne has opted to not progress with a swimmable pool along the Yarra River.

An implementation plan for the “Greenline” project, which represents Melbourne’s “biggest transformation” since the opening of Federation Square in 2002 according to Lord Mayor Sally Capp, went before councillors on December 7.

And while the council is pushing ahead with many aspects flagged in May’s draft plan, the proposal for a pool at Enterprize Park on the north bank was not being advanced.

It determined that the proposal (for a lap pool, kids’ pool and wetlands area) was not feasible due to a lack of space in the proposed location next to Melbourne Aquarium.

It was also denied on more opaque “financial and non-financial” grounds.

Pushed by community-led group Yarra Pools since 2016, the decision is a blow after years of campaigning and advocacy.

President Felicity Watson said they were “very disappointed” with the council’s decision.

“It was a scheme that has been created over a number of years by a lot of people who have contributed an enormous amount of expertise and talent to create this vision,” she said.

“We know it’s an extremely popular concept and proposition and has always attracted a lot of positive attention, so we’re obviously disappointed not only from our perspective but also on behalf of Melburnians.”

Ms Watson said that while the group was provided with a brief overview of what the council considered regarding the pool proposal, it was yet to see any detailed analysis as to why it decided to not progress.

However, the final implementation plan, presented to councillors after Southbank News went to print, did not shut the door on hopes for a future pool.

“That is not to say that a swimming pool(s) in the city’s waterways couldn’t be considered in the future, or in other locations (e.g. Victoria Harbour),” it noted.

Southbank News understands that two Docklands locations — at Bolte West and near Ron Barassi Snr Park — delivered stronger feasibility scores for a prospective pool than Enterprize Park.

Ms Watson said Yarra Pools’ purpose was not confined to one Northbank location.

“We have said all along and we made it really clear to the City of Melbourne that we’re open to this complex being constructed in a different location. We weren’t 100 per cent wedded to Enterprize Park — we were absolutely open to other possibilities and we’re still open to alternatives as well.”

She said the group’s hopes and objectives had not changed despite the council’s decision.

“We’re definitely not going anywhere. Our campaign has always been, first and foremost, about advocating for a swimmable Yarra River and for all of the changes that need to happen for that to occur. So, improving water quality, promoting water-sensitive design and all of the things that need to be embedded in our planning and the way that we use our landscape in order to create a swimmable river. So as a team we’re going to refocus on that objective and see where that takes us.”

Since releasing draft plans earlier this year, the council received 390 survey submissions on Greenline and held two workshops, each attended by more than 40 targeted stakeholders.

This included landowners, local traders and business associations. 

An overwhelming number (51 per cent) of respondents said they wanted Northbank to primarily be used for exercise and recreation, followed by relaxation (14 per cent) and commuting either by bike or foot (14 per cent).

The entire Greenline project will be separated into five key “precincts”, each determined on the basis of land management, activity and character attributes.

These are (from east to west): Birrarung Marr, Yarro Yarro, River Park, Maritime and Salt Water Wharf.

The four-kilometre trail was proposed to be six metres wide and create a largest network of green spaces.

“Imagine walking along the north bank of the Yarra from the MCG to Docklands as the sun sets. You meander along pedestrian boardwalks and over bridges, explore in new parks, and celebrate our Aboriginal heritage and culture,” Cr Capp said.

“Just as Southbank and Federation Square energised Melbourne at the turn of the century, Greenline will usher in a new era for our city at a time we need it most.”

Cycling will be supported on the trail, but not at high speeds.

Contemporary Aboriginal culture will be at the heart of the project.

Cr Capp made Greenline a key part of her 2018 by-election and 2020 general election strategies, winning on both occasions.

The Lord Mayor had a considerable amount of work to do, however, convincing upper levels of government and private sector investment in the project, which was estimated to cost around $300 million.

The council has said it would push for a “tri-government funding partnership”, which included a $100 million contribution each from the state and federal government •

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