Greenline stage one designs approved as locals have their say
Locals have had their say on the revitalisation of the Birrarung Marr river edge, mostly endorsing the first of five stages in the $300 million “city shaping” Greenline project, along the Yarra River.
A broad cross-section of survey respondents — from teenagers to septuagenarians and residents to workers — were generally positive about the designs, with 56 per cent of the near 200 respondents saying they were “very good” or “excellent”.
The Birrarung Marr precinct is the first of five precincts to be transformed as part of the Greenline project and is likely to comprise more than 450 metres of new boardwalks, a six-metre-wide promenade and new native habitats.
The other four precincts — (from east to west) The Falls, River Park, Maritime and Saltwater Wharf — make up the entire four-kilometre green trail that was set to run through to the Bolte Bridge.
Survey respondents focused on a range of topics, but the topics of greatest intrigue revolved around active transport and tree cover.
Participants identified potential for conflict between cyclists or scooter riders, and pedestrians.
One respondent said that a “separated space for cycling slowly through to enjoy the space” was required, and that the revitalised Birrarung Marr “must not resemble Southbank Promenade shared space”, where the intersection between cyclists and pedestrians is an ongoing concern.
Another participant said that, due to the area’s use as an event venue, there was a need to “balance use of space by commercial operators and recreational users to avoid conflict”.
Councillors endorsed the Birrarung Marr concept design at the final Future Melbourne Committee meeting of 2022.
Speaking at that meeting, Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the feedback received had “absolutely influenced the final designs” and “will continue to influence outcomes along Greenline”.
“We’ve heard loud and clear many of the consistent messages that have come through: active transport options and making sure they remain available, accessibility [which is] absolutely vital, amenities such as lighting and street furniture being added, and good suggestions about future food options,” Cr Capp said.
Feedback also indicated a desire for the design to include a connection with nature, increased canopy cover, and grassed areas.
Further, respondents expressed support for a billabong to be included as part of the site, on the basis that it would add to cultural expression.
However, council officers have recommended that the wetland area not be included, with the “focus of the project to be the upgrade to the river edge”.
Stage one works were expected to begin by mid-2023.
Meanwhile, the council has appointed the design studio and landscape architects to deliver the entire Greenline project, which was expected to be completed in 2028.
ASPECT Studios, an international design practice which has worked on greening projects such as the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk in Sydney and, more locally, the Caulfield to Dandenong skyrail linear park, will work alongside award-winning landscape architecture firm T.C.L.
The two groups will work together on each precinct site, collaborating with the council, state government and key project partners.
“The Greenline Project is a transformative vision for our city, and we’re thrilled to have two of Australia’s leading landscape architecture firms on board to help us make this vision a reality,” Cr Capp said.
In September 2022, economic analysts estimated the Greenline project would deliver more than $3 of value for every dollar spent.
A business case prepared by consultancy group Ernst & Young forecasted an increased economic activity in Melbourne of $740 million over 20 years as a result of of Greenline, which was expected to create more than 3400 jobs during construction and more than 6400 ongoing jobs by 2042.
The council has hoped that the strong business case will attract greater levels of investment from upper levels of government.
So far, the federal government has committed $20 million to the project, while the state government was yet to come to the table.
The council, which has proposed a $100 million contribution from each level of government, needed further commitment for the entire project to be fully delivered, however was confident of garnering the required investment. •
Caption: An artist impression of the revitalised Birrarung Marr river edge.