Southbank3006 pitches bold plan to improve culture and liveability of Southbank

Brendan Rees

A new off-leash dog park in front of ACCA could be on the cards for Southbank after residents’ group Southbank3006 pitched a bold plan to the City of Melbourne in ways to revitalise the precinct.

The proposal was raised at the council’s June 23 meeting which heard from various members of the community giving feedback on the draft Budget 2022-23.

Southbank3006’s president David Hamilton spoke passionately about the need to create more open space in the neighbourhood – which the group described in its submission as “low-hanging fruit” to improve Southbank’s liveability.

This included transforming the “desolate wasteland of granitic sand area” (at the site adjacent to ACCA) into a grassed dog park accessible for residents across Southbank Village, the Melbourne Arts Precinct and Kavanagh St.

The site is not managed by the council, but Mr Hamilton said Southbank3006 would work with ACCA and the council in making the proposed dog park a reality for 2023, which he told the council meeting was a space that can be used “quite much more productively than it is at present.”

“The problem is that according to council policy, we should have 42 hectares of open space in Southbank. The reality is we’ve got five. And when we did some quick calculations, that’s $800 million required in capital works just to build the space,” he said.

“So, we therefore need to think far more creatively and innovatively about open space in Southbank.”

Mr Hamilton, who was joined by Southbank3006’s vice-president Jannine Pattison in their presentation to the council, also proposed to activate Southbank Blvd by creating a farmers’ market as part of reigniting Melbourne “to feature the diversity of life in Southbank”

It also wants the council to establish an annual Southbank Carnival recognising the area’s diversity and bringing people together and out of their vertical villages among other proposals, which Lord Mayor Sally Capp said were some “excellent ideas”.

Mr Hamilton said while Southbank3006 welcomed the council’s commitment to developing a park in Dodds St, it believed it would better be delivered as a public art space and a site for a farmers’ market.

The idea for a four-legged friendly facility would be in addition to an off-leash dog park being considered by the City of Melbourne as part of stage six of the Southbank Boulevard project.

Concept plans show a proposed fenced, off-lead dog park would be situated on the north-eastern corner of the City Rd intersection, with scoping and feasibility work on the project beginning next year.

The council confirmed this development after the proposed dog park was left out of a review of dogs in open space report in June, with the council ultimately approving seven existing parks to be used as off-leash areas for dogs at across the municipality either as a timed-access or fenced off.

The only space listed was the new off-leash dog park at the corner of Kings Way and Moray St, prompting Southbank Residents’ Association president Tony Penna to question councillors at their June 7 meeting as to whether the planned dog park in the Southbank Boulevard concept plan would come to fruition.

However, the council said formal recognition of a new dog park would be made once construction was completed.

A City of Melbourne spokesperson said the council was committed to ensuring adequate access to dog park facilities across the municipality.

“This includes progressing plans for an off-leash dog park as part of the Southbank Boulevard project, following the recent completion of the Southern Undercroft dog park on City Rd,” the spokesperson said.

While the new off-leash dog park has been well received, concerns have been raised the space was too small and not functional.

Mr Penna told the council that while he welcomed the new dog park, “it is noted that compared to other areas of the municipality, Southbank dog owners don’t have access to the same high-quality space.”

Meanwhile, the council will install signs at Boyd Park – which has become popular as a grassed off-leash area – directing dog owners to the new dog park at the Kingsway undercroft.

In response to Southbank 3006’s feedback, a council report said $17.5 million in the 2022–23 Budget and $75 million had been allocated over the next four years for open space acquisition including in Southbank.

“This major initiative recognises the challenge of increasing populations and population density, and relative low provision of open space in these areas and is a commitment by council to address the challenge,” it said.

The council has completed the first stage of consultation for neighbourhood planning in Southbank with the findings to be presented in August and September.

Parks approved by council as off-leash dog areas include Manningham Reserve in Parkville, Wellington Park in East Melbourne, Point Park and Ron Barassi Snr Park in Docklands, Eades Park in West Melbourne, Riverside Park in Kensington. Murchison Square in Carlton was considered but removed with the council to consult further with the community. •

For more details on Southbank3006’s revitalisation plan, read its regular column here.

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