Final plan endorsed to green Roden St
The City of Melbourne has endorsed a final concept plan that will see West Melbourne’s Roden St turned into a welcoming green space.
The $2.75 million project will add 1000 square metres of trees and plants to the roadway, with works expected to begin in the middle of next year.
Community engagement was held from May 18 to June 15 to ensure the final design reflected the needs and desires of those who live and work in the area, with 91 per cent of people supporting the proposal.
The final plan, which councillors unanimously endorsed at their October 3 Future Melbourne Committee meeting, aims to not only beautify the area but also to “strengthen urban forest resilience and plant community biodiversity”.
Key features of the plan include the introduction of 27 trees, as well as new shrubs and grasses, a new kerb and channel, a reconfiguration of the existing car spaces that will incur no loss of parking, and a new footpath network.
A water-sensitive urban design will also be introduced to reduce storm water run-off.
The council’s environment portfolio lead Cr Rohan Leppert (pictured) said the project was a critical step towards creating a more sustainable and liveable city.
Caption: Cr Rohan Leppert is excited about the City of Melbourne’s plan to add more greenery to Roden St. Photo: Hanna Komissarova.
“We’ve invested a lot of funds in new open space and urban forest in recent years and West Melbourne has been a beneficiary of that new open space,” he said.
“This is part of our broader sweep of policies to ensure West Melbourne can be that liveability gem here in the City of Melbourne.”
Cr Leppert said he was delighted with the final concept plan, noting that the consultation process had been “robust and fair”.
Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece said West Melbourne was going through significant change “but it’s an area that will be an absolutely wonderful outcome when it is completed”.
“I think indeed that in years to come the transformation that we’re seeing in West Melbourne will be looked upon as a real exemplar not just here in Australia bit around the world of how a city can manage the transition of an area from grey to green.”
According to a community engagement summary, in which 113 responses were received, respondents in favour of the proposal said upgrades would make the street more “beautiful and pleasant”.
A small number of people expressed concern about a loss of parking spaces or how the changes would affect the use and enjoyment of Roden St or felt that the changes were not necessary.
The final design aligns with the council’s objectives of the North and West Melbourne Urban Forest Precinct Plan and the Nature in the City Strategy.
North and West Melbourne Association treasurer Kevin Chamberlin earlier this year welcomed the proposal, saying it was “indicative of the green opportunities in North and West Melbourne that have resulted from the change in uses from industrial to residential”.
Dr Thami Croeser, a postdoctoral researcher in urban greening at the Centre for Urban Research at RMIT University applauded the council’s plan, particularly given it had “taken out a lot of redundant roadway in the east of Roden St without changing access”.
“With heatwaves becoming the new normal in summer, we’re going to need to replace a lot of asphalt with green space and trees in our streets,” he said. “However, it seems that one side of the street got all the greening, and that was the side that was already quite green. The decision to retain all parking on the south side of the street, not even putting trees between parking spaces, means that the north-facing walls will remain very exposed to hot afternoon sun all summer long.”
Dr Croeser added the apartment block in the street had underground parking “so the retention of so much asphalt for street parking is questionable; this street section has 24 buildings that lack garages and 62 parking spaces, a massive oversupply in such a walkable inner-city location”. •