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Boating - Bridge referenced in Gehl report

06 Mar 2014

Boating - Bridge referenced in Gehl report Image

The hotly-debated Victoria Harbour pedestrian bridge has reared its head again, turning up in Gehl Architects’ Docklands report.

The report was commissioned by Places Victoria (then VicUrban) in 2010, but has been kept under wraps until now.  

The bridge is mentioned in the report as part of a series of “pilot projects” which are described as having the potential for large-scale impact on the surrounding area.

The report suggests installing a temporary pontoon bridge to connect Victoria Harbour and NewQuay, before installing a permanent pedestrian and bicycle bridge once development has reached a certain point and, in time, building a further bridge connecting to Yarra’s Edge.

Gehl architect Camilla Richter-Friis van Deurs, who worked on the project in 2010, said the bridge concept featured in the report was the idea of Gehl Architects.

“I cannot claim that Gehl Architects are the first to think of the bridge, as it is a logical connection,” Ms Richter-Friis van Deurs said.

“We were however not informed of any previous concept if any existed at the time of the study.”

Places Victoria says the concept of a linking bridge had been discussed well before the Gehl study, having been raised in the Victoria Harbour Master plan in late 2008.

A spokesperson pointed to the Gehl report, which mentions that a review of several Docklands master plans was part of the research for the report, and said the Victoria Harbour master plan was part of this review.

The concept of a low-lying pedestrian bridge has been raised in other reports including the Access Docklands transport strategy in April 2013 and the “My Docklands” report in July 2013.

Places Victoria and the City of Melbourne also proposed a pedestrian bridge in November 2010, a month after the Gehl report was handed to Places Victoria in October of the same year.

At the time Places Victoria and council said the concept had emerged from a recent round of public consultations.

Each time the bridge has been proposed it has been met by vehement opposition from the boating community, who believe it would destroy any chance of activating Docklands’ waterways.

Lady Cutler skipper Jeff Gordon said Victoria Harbour was a harbour first and should be there for the vessels to come and go freely without being impeded.

“It’s all about the water in Victoria Harbour so why would we want to destroy any chance of activating it?” Mr Gordon questioned.

He pointed to the “Tan Track” and said Melbourne didn’t need to build a pedestrian bridge or walking track across the harbour at great expense.

“I’d like them to give me the money they would spend on it and I’ll happily put a ferry service in to shuttle people from one side to the other,” Mr Gordon said.

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