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Plans for new Southbank on show

The City of Melbourne has released concept plans for a major refresh of Southbank Promenade along the Yarra in the Arts Centre precinct.

The Promenade was an important public realm project for Melbourne 40 years ago, opening up the river to the people, and has become a popular destination.

However the design has dated, and with the current level of activity during peak periods, it is not always a great experience for users.

The experience for bike riders was compromised by thoughtless, designed-in, squeeze points, blind spots, hazardous street furniture, and a layout that created haphazard pedestrian movement, bringing unnecessary conflict between riders and people on foot.

Although the city of Melbourne is creating better alternative routes for riders making commuter trips along the Yarra alignment, for the casual riders who still wish to visit Southbank Promenade, the new design will be a welcome improvement.

The concept plans are out for public comment. You can have your say here.

The project is for the section of the river between Princes Bridge and the Evan Walker Bridge. The remainder of the Promenade is expected to be upgraded over time.

The key aims of the current project are to:
  • Refine the promenade to support its intensive public use.
  • Increase its capacity to accommodate crowds.
  • Reduce conflicts between pedestrians and bike riders.
  • Support both casual non-commercial activity and events.
  • Plan for the renewal of assets including paving, lighting and trees to enhance amenity, appearance and sustainability of the space.
  • Improve connections of the promenade with adjoining spaces and precincts.

Significantly, the upper Promenade at Hamer Hall will be widened by 70%, from 5 metres to 8.5 metres.

Views of the river will be greatly improved, and movement along the water’s edge will be less encumbered, attracting visitors and their cameras to take in the view of the city across the river.

The trees between Princes Bridge and Evan Walker Bridge are in very poor health due to poor soil conditions and will be replaced and re-positioned.

Stairs and ramps are to be reconfigured and it is expected that areas where are significant cross-flows of people over the Promenade, sightlines will be improved to reduce potential friction between users travelling in different directions.

The worn-out concrete pavers will be replaced by bluestone.

Construction is expected to take place in 2021.

As always, the devil will be in the detailed plans. Bicycle Network will continue to work with the City of Melbourne to ensure a result that works for all Promenade users.

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