Open space

Open space
Tony Penna

We note some exciting, but interesting, items on the council Future Melbourne Committee agenda for May 7.

Firstly, movement on the City Road Master Plan. They called the agenda item an update, yet it was only providing an update on one specific item of the master plan. The master plan is quite a significant plan which covers Alexandra Ave to Clarendon St. Southbank Residents’ Association (SRA) has been an integral part of the engagement which began in February 2014, including significant community consultation.

The City Road Master Plan was supposed to be completed in 2023 yet very little has occurred since it was endorsed in 2016. Almost every year since its endorsement SRA has been questioning and advocating for funds to be allocated to the budget at each council budget presentation. We had some small wins on small aspects of the plan thanks to the support of Cr Rohan Leppert.

The council officers are also claiming the expansion of the bicycle network along City Rd as complete, when in our opinion, it hasn’t started. We will be questioning them on this when we make our presentation to the council Future Melbourne Committee.

SRA is delighted that finally we are making some traction on the undercroft redevelopment. This is an important component to Southbank’s open space fabric which is long overdue.

However, we have concerns where the funds will come from to complete this project. It will be a significant investment at a time when the City of Melbourne is committed to its $300 million Greenline project. There is very little left! Sadly, I am not getting my hopes up that this will be finished anytime soon, let alone started.

Another motion at the same meeting is for an opportunity to deliver new open space to Southbank. This space is identified as Normanby Road Reserve, directly behind the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

It proposes to reclaim the whole southern carriageway and create an additional 1.2 hectares of open space. The project would cost $22.5 million to deliver and take around three years.

This is certainly good news for the residents whom live on Whiteman St and surrounds. The council’s open space policy advises residents should be within a 500-metre walk of their nearest space, so this fits perfectly for those locals.

However, this will also mean most of the $25 million currently being held to source open space in Southbank will be spent on this project, which leaves me to question what plan the council will have to continue to provide open space for Southbank. The council’s policy is 22 sqm of open space per resident and currently this is well below three sqms – a significant shortfall, one that will never be balanced.


Yet, the council has decided to sneak a line into the motion to not proceed with Southbank Structure Plan Recommendation L3 – “Prepare a master plan and business case for decking of the City Link tunnel entrance”.


This proposed open space, which was spruiked in the 2010 Southbank Structure Plan, was the answer to Southbank’s open space shortfall. Council planners had the community believing they had it all under control. However, since this announcement in the structure plan 14 years ago SRA has been questioning when council will do the costings and feasibility study to no success.

It is a travesty council officers believe they can just discount this significant component of the structure plan with a simple line in a motion, which even more surprisingly is on a topic unrelated to the Citylink decking.

SRA will be advocating for this line to be removed from the motion and for the council to at least consult with the community on the significance of this and where to next. Once again SRA won’t allow the council to feel they can hoodwink us as they have tried to many times in the past, such as declaring Southbank Boulevard project finished (stage six is still outstanding), and stage one of Southbank promenade completed when there is still a long way to go.

Please council, stop giving us this lip-service and give us some respect and have some open and honest conversations with the community.

This is a big meeting, and we will be holding them to account to provide for Southbank.

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