Greenline “set free” by Lord Mayor after councillor raises questions about costs

Greenline “set free” by Lord Mayor after councillor raises questions about costs
Sean Car

Outgoing Lord Mayor Sally Capp says she is confident her signature Greenline project will “flourish” despite announcing she would not be recontesting October’s local government elections.

Cr Capp’s resignation came after her former Team Capp colleague Cr Roshena Campbell put Town Hall on notice to deliver the $300 million Greenline project in “the most cost-effective manner possible” after almost $16 million was spent before a shovel hits the ground.

Cr Campbell said that “a lot of people in Melbourne” would see the money spent to date on the Greenline project as “eye-watering”, as fresh questions emerge about its future viability amid the Lord Mayor’s decision not to continue for another council term.

Construction on the four-kilometre Northbank trail began in April, as the council announced 21 trees which were at the end of their lifespan or in poor health would be removed along Birrarung Marr.

Cr Campbell, who last year lost as the Liberal Party candidate in a by-election for the Federal seat of Aston in Melbourne’s east, said rising construction costs meant it was imperative the City of Melbourne could still provide ratepayer value for the project.

Her comments followed the release of the council’s latest quarterly report on Greenline, which noted that works were due to begin in April on “site one” at Birrarung Marr, from Batman Avenue to the eastern edge of Federation Square.

The council also noted that by early May a new project “hub” – where people can learn about Greenline and where the project team’s will be located – was set to be installed to the south of Federation Square.

“I know for a lot of people in Melbourne, [the $15.8 million] would seem very significant, eye-watering even,” Cr Campbell said at a March 5 Future Melbourne Committee meeting.

“Perhaps the most tangible example they will see with that shortly will be the hub building, that is also at a significant cost, $1.27 million.”

She put the council on notice to deliver the project within budget.

“I’m really conscious that this is a time where we’re under significant budgetary pressure … in an environment of rising construction costs, crippling rises in construction costs, and in that circumstance, I think it’s important to note with these quarterly reports the need to make sure that this project is delivered in the most cost-effective manner possible,” Cr Campbell said.

“There is no doubt that all levels of government are facing cost blow-outs when it comes to project delivery, but we’ve got an obligation at the City of Melbourne to make sure that every dollar that is spent on this project, ratepayers in the City of Melbourne feel they are receiving value for it.”

Lord Mayor Sally Capp, who made Greenline a key part of her 2018 by-election and 2020 general election strategy, admitted she was “impatient for the delivery of this project”, but said, “I also know it’s going to absolutely be worth the wait”.


I think persistence is an absolute hallmark of city-shaping projects like this as we saw with others, like the development of Southbank into the premier hospitality and entertainment precinct that it is now, [and] as we saw also with Federation Square.


Cr Capp’s comments came after it was revealed a Greenline “Partnership and Funding Strategy” would not come before councillors until mid-2024.

The strategy is seen as crucial for the future of Greenline, given the council has so far struggled to attract investment from the state and federal governments.

From the outset the council has sought $100 million commitments from each of these two levels to fund the project, however, has received just a $20 million pledge from Federal Labor (which was still to reach the council) almost two years ago.

The Victorian Government was yet to show any appetite to fund what Cr Capp has called a “city-shaping project”, and those at Town Hall will be eagerly awaiting details of the May 7 budget.

After announcing she would be stepping down as Lord Mayor at the end of June on March 28, questions have already emerged about whether the future of Greenline without her own political capital to see it through.

But in referencing Greenline, as well as a range of other major projects that she has been central to during her time as Lord Mayor, she said she was confident it would “flourish”.

“These are projects with full endorsement of the council, of great popularity and support across community and the private sector, and as the saying goes, ‘when you love something, set it free’, and I am setting those projects free. I’m sure that they will flourish,” she said.

It was initially expected that the strategy would arrive concurrently with the Greenline Masterplan endorsed late last year, however that did not eventuate.

But the council was buoyed by the news in late March that the Greenline Project masterplan was named a winner at the 2024 Australian Urban Design Awards for revitalising an “essential part of the city”.

The council said it expects site one works at Birrarung Marr to be completed by the end of the year. •

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