The City of Melbourne has set aside $11 million in its 2017 budget to develop a linear park along Southbank Boulevard designed by the City of Melbourne’s City Design Studio. The boulevard connects the Domain Parklands to the Yarra River and is lined with some of Victoria’s most significant cultural institutions, including the MTC Theatre and the Melbourne Recital Centre, both designed by Ashton Raggatt McDougall, the recently completed ABC centre designed by Cox Architecture, the National Gallery of Victoria designed by Roy Grounds and the Victorian College of the Arts.
The open space will be freed up by converting one car lane on Southbank Boulevard for use as open public space. Traffic on the road has dropped steadily over the past few decades following the construction of Queensbridge Square in 2001, despite Southbank’s status as the most densely populated suburb in greater metropolitan Melbourne. Over 92% of residents in the suburb live in high-rise apartments, according to a community engagement summary released by the City of Melbourne in 2016.
The area is also one of the city’s most deprived when it comes to the provision of green space. The recommended per-person provision for green space in Melbourne is 22 square metres. In Southbank, there are approximately three square metres per person. Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said that the public space created in front of the new ABC headquarters alone will be larger than Melbourne’s City Square.
A spokesperson for the council explained that the decision to convert an existing car lane into the new park was made because purchasing the land would cost approximately $140 million at a cost of $7,000 per square metre.
Plans to consolidate the road were present in the Melbourne Arts Precinct Blueprint released in 2014 by the Victorian Government.
The intersection of Southbank Boulevard and Dodds Street will be redeveloped for use as a multi-functional events space. ”Dodds Street will be redesigned into a public space that can cater for everything from street performances to medium scale music festivals at the doorstep of the Victorian College of the Arts, ” Doyle said.
1.2 kilometres of dedicated cycle lane will also be installed as part of the redevelopment, in addition to significant planting and a new children’s play space.
Elsewhere in the budget the council has allocated $1.5 million to transform the southern end of Elizabeth Street in the city centre by closing the southbound lane and installing new paving, lighting and street trees. The decision to make the change is partly due to the need to provide a safe and accessible pedestrian route to Flinders Street Station to compensate for work on the Metro Tunnel.