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The changing face of High Street

With Thornbury Village at its heart, High Street carries an eclectic vibe. The diversity of the local population is matched by the diversity of High Street's built form.

The area in focus spans High Street between Athurton Road/Separation Street and Miller StreetDundas Street, with Northcote and Thornbury both represented.

This particular stretch of High Street is bookended by Preston Junction which is under intense high density development with buildings up to 18 levels proposed, whilst the southern end abutting Athurton/Separation is also a flurry of apartment activity.

Tower cranes sit above Northcote's portion of High Street 

The built form which lies in between is almost kaleidoscopic, from magnificently ornate buildings to some of Melbourne's most horrid.

With recent apartment developments of varying quality thrown into the mix, High Street hits both the highs and the lows of urban design...the good, the bad and the ugly so to speak.

Heavily slanted toward retail and dining, High Street and in particular Thornbury Village have yet to taste the intense levels of development that are evident nearby. Yet the march of apartment living looks set to reach the heart of High Street as suitable sites are earmarked for development.

Suitable in that there are many additions during the 70's and 80's that detract from the streetscape and would make excellent development sites; 805 High Street below is a prime example.

Not the greatest example of street level activation

Limited development is occurring within Thornbury Village as two apartment development at 688 High Street and 679-685 High Street reached completion in recent months.

Aradena and Sophia are upcoming apartment projects whilst the biggest on the radar remains Deluca Property Group's Hive Apartments. Designed by RotheLowman, the building will rise 8 levels but also looks to have the most active and open street frontage.

Add The General at 421 High Street which is under construction and these two projects are High Street's most dominant and most interesting from a design perspective.

Hive Thornbury is close to sold out and set to commence construction

With a steady influx of apartment projects looking to call High Street home, Darebin City Council have acted by creating a High Street Streetscape Master Plan, encompassing Thornbury Village, with improvements to safety and the public realm in mind. "The Master Plan will focus on the High Street shopping strip, extending from Separation Street/Arthurton Street in the south, to Miller Street/Dundas Street in the north."

Council have asked that the public contribute to the Masterplan with the intent of broadening the scope of the project. Ideals such as a permanent projection festival or parklets along the footpath have been canvassed.

Additionally, Darebin have the Junction Urban Master Plan (JUMP) in play with its role defined as changing the look, feel and function of High Street.

At the heart of JUMP are "traffic calming devices such as the central median, kerb outstands, pedestrian thresholds and landscaping, will support slower speed travel and encourage a safer public space for pedestrians and cyclists. They also provide an opportunity for outdoor dining and landscape."

So existing and new built form will mesh together whilst Darebin does its best to improve the public domai. Interesting times ahead for High Street in terms of its urban evolution. 

High Street aspect looking north toward Preston

2 comments

Aussie Steve's picture

Maybe this thread should be changed to High Street, Darebin, as there are other High Streets and many inner city high streets.

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Grampians's picture

True, there are some gems along there but wholly too much traffic without any good alternatives for that traffic. Work on St Georges Rd as the proper trunk throughway and Albert St.

First step, create permanent clearways in the commercial areas with some other small areas of parking to offset, widen footpaths significantly, add extensive tree and landscape softening elements and a safe, protected bike lane.

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