Council accepts call not to pursue public open space next to North Melbourne Town Hall

Council accepts call not to pursue public open space next to North Melbourne Town Hall
Brendan Rees

The City of Melbourne will not pursue plans to create an open space next to the North Melbourne Town Hall after accepting the Department of Transport’s decision to reject the proposal.

The project had sought to create a forecourt or park adjacent to the Town Hall with a variety of options proposed for a new open space on Queensberry St or Errol St or a combination of both.

While the department had formally notified the council that it would not support the plan at a March 19 council meeting, councillors agreed to defer the matter before making their final decision on the proposal until it received the reasons why the department had knocked it back.   

These reasons were outlined in a council report presented at the April 23 Future Melbourne Committee meeting.

This included through traffic on Queensberry St being needed in both directions because changes to Arden St and Queensberry St from the introduction of bike lanes would reduce the number of vehicle lanes and the capacity of these roads.

It also noted a westbound closure on Queensberry St (for the creation of open space) was expected to increase traffic on Arden St and impact public buses and cyclists. Another reason was that local access was required in North Melbourne to assist shop deliveries and maintain vehicle and bicycle access.

It also noted realignment of both the east and west bound traffic lanes to the northern side of Queensberry St increased the likelihood of vehicles entering opposing traffic or tram lanes but also heighten the risk of conflicts between left turning vehicles and pedestrians traversing through the area.

The proposal was considered as part of a $100 million Transport and Amenity Program for North and West Melbourne and Docklands to deliver a suite of streetscape improvement projects to help mitigate the effects of the West Gate Tunnel Project.

Councillors voted that while it would not progress work on new public open space, it would request that council management finalise site investigations for a potential expansion of the Errol St median as a new open space opportunity. A concept plan would be developed by March 2025.

The council’s environment portfolio lead Cr Rohan Leppert said while he was a little disappointed with not going ahead with the green space next to the town hall, he accepted the department’s decision. •

“There are, of course, other opportunities in the immediate vicinity that could lead to some very exciting outcomes, and we should continue to explore them,” he said.

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