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Works halted along Southbank Promenade

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Brendan Rees

Works along Southbank Promenade have been halted until next year following concern from traders they would be disrupted ahead of the busiest time of year.

The City of Melbourne is revitalising a 300-metre section of the promenade from Princes Bridge to Evan Walker Bridge to provide greater safety and improved amenity.

It will see bluestone paving replaced, lighting upgraded, new seating installed, stairs and ramps reconfigured, and more trees added.

But after hearing from traders “about the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on business” the council said works would be put on hold from mid-October until April next year.

“We have worked with our contractor to revise the stage two project timeline to avoid works affecting traders on Southbank Promenade in the lead up to Christmas 2022,” the council said.

Stage two, to the east of Evan Walker Bridge in front of the Southgate shopping and dining precinct, will now be split into two phases.

The first phase will see temporary fencing removed when construction pauses in mid-October. A ramp and staircase to the east of Evan Walker Bridge will be closed during this phase, but a fully accessible temporary ramp will be available.

Works will then restart again next April for phase two at the western end next to Evan Walker Bridge and be completed during July 2023. Temporary fencing will also be installed.

Pedestrian and cycling access along Southbank Promenade will continue to be maintained, as well as access to the residential properties and businesses.

Construction hours will be 7am to 6pm Monday to Friday with occasional work on Saturdays between 8am and 6pm.

“We will continue to work closely with our contractor to minimise impacts on traders and promenade users and will ensure noisy works are completed outside of the busy lunch trading hours,” the council said.

A trader, who asked not to be named, said they welcomed the pause but questioned the rationale behind the project. However, they commended the council for accommodating their business’s concerns.

“They spent six weeks reforming the shape of the footpath which had nothing wrong with it,” he said, adding “they’ve replaced one concrete ramp with another concrete ramp”.

The trader also said there had also been a lack of communication and notice about the works.

 

“We live in the world’s most liveable city, there’s got to be works and progress around you, but make it worthwhile and communicate and time it right.”

 

Executive officer of the Yarra River Business Association Tim Bracher said the warmer months would be crucial to the viability of many businesses moving forward.

“The council’s support in so many ways to help business get through the pandemic has been commendable,” he said.

Meanwhile, 2.5-metre-high hoardings installed along the promenade block the views of the Yarra from two riverside restaurants while also creating a bottle neck for pedestrians and cyclists. When Southbank News enquired earlier this year, traders claimed they hadn’t been compensated for loss of business.  •

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