Identified for a long time as lacking many of the human scale qualities that creates a vibrant and inviting street level environment, Southbank is now subject to a proposal that will create a swathe of open space through the spine of the suburb. City of Melbourne is advancing plans to transform Southbank Boulevard and Dodds Street into open space thoroughfares.
Described by Council as "A once-in-a-generation opportunity to address increasing public space needs of a rapidly growing population in one of Melbourne’s most densely populated suburbs," a report was put before the Future Melbourne (Environment) Committee last week that aims to endorse draft plans for the project.
Brought on by figures which show that Southbank holds one of Melbourne’s lowest provisions of public open space at 3 metres per person, the project was first earmarked during 2010.
Under plans for the transformation, up to 2.5 hectares of repurposed public space could be added by lessening the existing road network, with the spared roadway still be capable of accommodating current vehicular traffic flows. This additional space has an estimated land value of $175 million.
In addition the project would see the creation of 1.1 kilometres of new bike lanes which would tie in with a new bike link emanating from Kavanagh Street and transiting Southbank Boulevard on its way into Queen Victoria Gardens and a likely meeting with the Capital City Trail. Urban forest improvements and the provision for a series of open spaces are catered for, and compliment private project like PJ Development Holdings' plans to introduce a new public park fronting Kavanagh Street nearby.
Between St Kilda Road and Sturt Street, one of two tram stops along Southbank Boulevard would disappear in favour of a consolidated larger single island platform stop, whilst on-street metered parking would be significantly reduced at a cost to Council of approximately $240,000 per annum.
Described as a project of its time within the report, the process of transformation now moves to community consultation with the intent of determining what individuals want to see and do on a revamped Southbank Boulevard. The project timeline calls for final community consultation to occur during early 2016, with a master plan to be ratified during April 2016.
Staged construction of the project is slated to commence during late 2016, with a 2019 completion date targeted.
The intended transformation of both Southbank Boulevard and Dodds Street runs parallel with City of Melbourne's creation of a new City Road Master Plan. Theses two projects are at the point of Council's efforts to rectify Southbank's street level amenity and liveability which has failed to match the intense residential development that has occurred within the suburb over the past two decades.
Transforming Southbank Boulevard is open to public comment until December 20, 2015.