New options explored for public space along Errol, Queensberry streets in North Melbourne
The City of Melbourne has proposed four different scenarios for the creation of a new public space next to the North Melbourne Town Hall.
The new space, proposed by the council in June last year, is expected to bring life to the urban landscape and provide a valuable space for residents.
The proposed preliminary layout options, which, at the time of publishing, were considered by councillors at their May 16 Future Melbourne Committee meeting, included using Queensberry St and linking the central median strip on Errol St.
A public space on its own in Queensberry St is proposed between Errol and Leveson streets.
“All preliminary layouts require completion of traffic impact assessments and car parking studies to be able to fully assess the viability of each option,” a council report said.
“It is proposed that this work be undertaken after which the preliminary layouts will progress to a functional design stage, including a further process of refinement and feedback from key stakeholders such as DTP (Department of Transport and Planning).”
The council explored an option to consider using $100 million from the North Melbourne, West Melbourne and Docklands Transport and Amenity Program (TAP), which is a suite of streetscape improvement projects “to help to alleviate and leverage some of the effects and benefits” of the West Gate Tunnel Project, particularly for local and arterial roads in the City of Melbourne.
However, the council report stated the public space project was “not on the priority list” for TAP funding.
“Current council priority projects in the TAP are Spencer St Master Plan, Hawke St Linear Park and Franklin St streetscape improvements, with all likely funding allocated to these projects,” it said.
While funding is unconfirmed, the report noted there was a “strategic justification for creating additional open space in the area of the North Melbourne Town Hall, with council’s Open Space Strategy (2012) identifying a need for additional open space in this sub-precinct”.
“Once confirmation of viable layouts has been determined, community engagement to determine the level of community interest and support for the viable layouts can progress,” it said.
The plans consider safe and easy access for people walking to and through the site, protected bike lanes along Queensberry St, maintaining existing bus and tram routes, and providing access for loading including for the Arts House.
It will also allow for the impact of any changes to car parking, as well as consideration of the heritage-listed toilet located in the centre median of Queensberry St, and ensuring traffic flow is safe and legible, with access maintained to adjacent laneways.
The community has long called for the council to nominate a place within the City of Melbourne, preferably a public and civic space in North Melbourne, to honour the legacy of local activists in social and environmental planning, Ruth and Maurie Crow.
The naming of any new open space at North Melbourne Town Hall will be considered when the feasibility of the project has been completed. A report and/or draft concepts will come back to council in March 2024. •