New park, path proposed along Hawke St

David Schout

Traffic could be cut to one lane in each direction to accommodate a new “linear” park along Hawke Street in West Melbourne.

Under a transformative design for the street’s entire length, the City of Melbourne would also remove around 50 “under-utilised” car parks in a bid to create more room for open space and a shared pedestrian/cyclist path. 

The long, skinny park would be landscaped with grass, garden beds and an increased tree canopy as part of wider “traffic calming” measures.

The key aspects of the plans, unveiled in late March, could be split into two sections:

Between Adderley Street and Spencer Street: traffic reduced from four lanes to two, a shared user path replacing the current median strip, and a new 8.5m-wide park.

Between Spencer Street and King Street: traffic reduced from four lanes to two, a shared user path replacing the current median strip, and a 10m-wide expansion of the existing green space. 

A 2020 car parking survey found that over 35 per cent of publicly available parking spaces in the area were not used at peak periods. 

“It is therefore anticipated that the repurposing of approximately 49 out of 157 existing car park spaces will not result in a noticeable loss of amenity,” the council said. 

The 108 remaining spaces would be retained and prioritised for local residents and businesses.

According to council plans, the new park would not only allow for community uses, but a reduced “urban heat island” effect, with additional tree canopy shade and permeable surfaces for rain water absorption.

The council has publicly released the plans and is asking for public feedback until Sunday April 25. 

Initial responses on social media were positive.

“I’ve been quietly waiting for this one for a while now. Very excited to see it moving along,” one user said. 

“It gets so hot on Hawke St compared to other streets - too much road, not enough trees. This is terrific!” another added. 

Independent City of Sydney councillor Professor Philip Thalis also Tweeted his support of the design.

“This is exactly the sort of transformational urban project we need across Aust cities — winning back space thoughtlessly appropriated for the car — planting, pedestrianising & our streets, our cities,” he said. 

One user on councillor Rohan Leppert’s Facebook page questioned why more parking was not removed for the green space and shared path.

But Cr Leppert said [the council   or  the plan] would not move too fast, too quick.

“We want to shift modes sustainably; sudden drops that create acute financial crises for some households are a step too far … so the net loss figure is designed to be proportionate,” he said. 

To have a say on the proposed linear park along Hawke Street, visit •

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