Push mounts for upgrade of “eyesore” red stairs

Push mounts for upgrade of “eyesore” red stairs
Brendan Rees

The Yarra River Business Association (YRBA) is hoping funding can be found to either remove or revamp the Queensbridge Square’s “eyesore” red stairs ahead of the City of Melbourne’s May budget.

The trader group would like “something concrete” done about it after Lord Mayor Sally Capp flagged the structure’s potential removal at a council meeting last November, conceding “the stairs and that precinct could do with some love”.

The Red Stairs amphitheatre was built in 2006 and designed for buskers and entertainers to complement the cafes and shops that surround the Queensbridge Square pedestrian plaza next to the Yarra River.

But since late last year the YRBA has been advocating for the council to either significantly modify or remove the red stairs as it had become a “unsightly lump of concrete”.

“Lack of maintenance has now seen the structure devolve into a sad reflection of its former self,” the YRBA’s executive officer Tim Bracher said.

“It was always a flawed idea from its installation in 2006. It is rarely used for performances because Queensbridge Square was never set up properly to be able to host major events.”


I think the key thing is it’s such a prominent landmark on Southbank and it’s looking quite delipidated now so it’s really affecting [visitors’] perception of Melbourne’s key tourist precinct.


In a statement, the City of Melbourne said it was continuing to explore a range of options for the future of the Red Stairs.

 “Further information will be brought to the public for consultation at a later date,” it said.

Mr Bracher said the YRBA had been in talks with the council after Cr Capp said it would “look into it” and more recently City of Melbourne CEO Alison Leighton “reported to the YRBA board that an examination of what could be done would be undertaken in 2024”.

Mr Bracher said a meeting with the council was flagged for May, but he added, “we’re concerned that we’re going to miss the budget cycle [to be announced on May 14] and that would be a great shame to have to put up with that eyesore for yet another 12 to 18 months”.

In April, Mr Bracher said the YRBA wrote to Ms Alison’s office asking that the structure’s timber top section be removed, “which would eliminate the most unsightly part of it and open up the vista along Southbank Boulevard”.

“The original concept plans for the council’s revamped Southbank Boulevard showed the top of the red stairs cut-off, as part of stage six of the boulevard project,” he said.

“Stage six has now stalled indefinitely, pending the outcome of some major private sector projects and, of course, council funding.”

“At the very least you can just take down that wooden bit at the back so we’ve got the views and if you want to you can still use it as a public performance.” •


Caption: Yarra River Business Association executive officer Tim Bracher (right) and president Jeremy Vincent (left) hope Queensbridge Square’s red stairs can be upgraded.

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