New Greenline designs revealed as Birrarung Marr works pushed back

David Schout

New designs for the $300 million Greenline project have been revealed by the City of Melbourne, providing a clearer picture of the council’s plan for the “city-shaping” trail.

Works at Birrarung Marr, which represents the first section of the four-kilometre path that is set to run along the Yarra River’s north bank to the Bolte Bridge, won’t commence until late-2023 at the earliest, despite an earlier expectation works would start in mid-2023.

The latest renders, from ASPECT Studios and landscape architecture group TCL, show more details surrounding proposed boardwalks, event spaces, wetlands, and cultural meeting places.

Perhaps most notably, the latest design ideas include the prospect of rooftop restaurants and cafes atop Northbank’s Banana Alley vaults, plus a linear park on Sandridge Bridge.

While the designs are subject to change and conditional upon approvals, they further emphasise the council’s bid to revitalise what it views as a substandard part of the city.

Earlier draft plans for Greenline described Northbank — in contrast to its counterpart across the river — as of “poor quality”, “lacking activity”, “prone to safety and security issues”, and an “overall underwhelming experience”.

“[It] is currently the unattractive counterpart to the revitalised Southbank which features sunny, attractive, and generally well-maintained pedestrianised public spaces and active building frontages adjacent to a thriving Arts Precinct,” it said.

It was not immediately clear why the timeline on “site one” works at Birrarung Marr had been pushed back, and the council, which was yet to put a request for tender on the project, said it had “targeted” a late 2023 commencement.

The new designs were revealed as part of an update on the Greenline masterplan to councillors at the April 4 Future Melbourne Committee meeting.

From April 5, a six-week consultation period with the community and key stakeholders will begin, allowing the council to gather information — both in-person at workshops, meetings and pop-ups, plus online at the Participate Melbourne webpage — to “further develop ideas and build a shared vision” for Greenline.

“Development of a shared vision is important given the technical complexity of the Greenline Project, community expectations, involvement of multiple stakeholders (property owners, managers and approval agencies) and the ongoing need to secure additional funding contributions,” the update read.

Public consultation for Birrarung Marr works were already undertaken in August and September, 2022, and results were generally positive, with 56 per cent of nearly 200 respondents mostly endorsing stage one works, saying they were “very good” or “excellent”. 

The City of Melbourne has said Greenline would deliver one of the biggest transformations of the city since the completion of Southbank Promenade in 1990 and the opening of Federation Square in 2002.

“The Greenline Project will revitalise the north bank of the Yarra River, creating thousands of jobs, attracting waves of new visitors, and injecting millions of dollars into our economy,” Lord Mayor Sally Capp said.

“Our landscape architecture and design experts have crafted an incredible vision for what the Greenline project could look like, with stunning boardwalks, event spaces, native vegetation and outdoor dining.”

“We want to hear what the community thinks to best inform the masterplan and deliver maximum value for Melburnians.” •

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