Public space plan next to North Melbourne Town Hall knocked back

Open Space North Melbourne Town Hall
Brendan Rees

A City of Melbourne proposal to create a new public space next to the North Melbourne Town Hall has been knocked back by the state government after concerns were cited over potential traffic impacts.

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.

Preliminary layout options were initially considered at a Future Melbourne Committee meeting held on May 16 last year, which councillors endorsed for further investigation.

Had it been successful, the proposal would have been funded through a $100 million Transport and Amenity Program (TAP) for North and West Melbourne and Docklands, which is to deliver a suite of streetscape improvement projects to help mitigate the effects of the West Gate Tunnel Project.

However, the Department of Transport rejected the public space plan saying it would not support realigning traffic lanes through the Queensberry and Errol streets intersection and that east-west through-traffic movement on Queensberry St “must be maintained” in both directions.

A summary of the department’s findings presented to the council’s March 19 Future Melbourne Committee (FMC) meeting noted future changes to traffic capacity on Arden and Grattan streets “elevates this role” on Queensberry St.

It also said, “staggering traffic lanes through the intersection creates unacceptable risks for vehicles and pedestrians and will not be supported”.

“No objections in principle were provided to the partial or full closure of Errol St north of Queensberry St,” the summary said.

A council report stated that a remaining feasible option was a narrow median extension on each side of the heritage toilet (on the centre median of Queensberry St), but this “would not create sufficient open space benefits to warrant progression”.

The report added that there was an opportunity to create additional public open space on Errol St between Queensberry and Bendigo streets, which councillors voted in support for consideration.



“This may constitute an expansion of the existing Errol St grass median into road space on one or both sides of the street,” the council report said, noting concept plans would be developed with business and community consultation and feedback.

The council’s environment portfolio lead Cr Rohan Leppert said while an expansion of Errol St was a “very good option”, he expressed his disappointment that the initial open space plans would not be progressed.


“I just don’t understand the network view that’s being taken and whether or not it truly considers the future state of the road network once Metro [Parkville Station] is finished, once Grattan St is reopened, [and] once Queensberry St is narrowed,” he said.


Cr Leppert added the east-west traffic in North and West Melbourne “is going to see a very, very significant increase” following the opening of the West Gate Tunnel Project in 2025 and that the TAP was designed to mitigate this.

Councillors voted unanimously to defer discussion of a potential North Melbourne Town Hall public open space to their April 23 FMC meeting.

The North and West Melbourne Association’s secretary Kevin Chamberlin said the decision not to proceed with the Queensberry St open space option was the right one.

“This area currently provides much needed and very important disability parking, short-term quarter-hour parking, and loading zones,” he said.

“The association for some years now had supported a bus stop being located in front of the town hall as part of the 401 route from the North Melbourne railway station to Melbourne University. This recommendation keeps that option alive.” •

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