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Council ‘fence sitting’on bridge

05 Dec 2013

Council ‘fence sitting’on bridge Image

The City of Melbourne has supported a proposal for a tram bridge across the Yarra River but has suggested further investigation is needed to ensure the bridge doesn’t restrict access to the marina at Yarra’s Edge.

The proposed bridge is part of the Fishermans Bend draft vision and would extend from Collins St across the river through Point Park at Yarra’s Edge and into Fishermans Bend.

Councillors unanimously endorsed the City of Melbourne’s submission on the draft vision at a Future Melbourne meeting on November 19.

Estimates for when the proposed bridge would be constructed have ranged from as soon as five years to as far off as 20 years.

At the same time, planning authorities have been adamant that no decisions have been made around the design of the transport link.

Accordingly, there has been uncertainty and concern around how the link will impact on Yarra’s Edge if and when it is built.

Council’s submission states that it generally supports the draft vision and is supportive of a tram link across the river describing it as a “critical connection” with the CBD.

But the submission suggests further investigation is required into design options for the tram extension that will cater for the maritime role of the waterways.

City of Melbourne is committee of management and landlord of the marina involving 149 leases with tenure until 2030.

Its submission references the concerns of the Yarra’s Edge community over the proposed bridge including preventing passage for most of the boats currently in the marina, loss of Point Park and compromised views.

Speaking at the Docklands Community Forum on November 27, City of Melbourne urban design manager Rob Moore said from council’s perspective the park wouldn’t be destroyed.

And, despite concerns expressed by the community and included in the submission, overall council’s submission is supportive of a transport link across the river.

“Whilst it is understandable that the proposed new crossing raises these issues in the emerging Yarra’s Edge community, this needs to be balanced with the broader city-shaping objectives of the Fishermans Bend urban renewal area,” the submission states.

“This will benefit the whole central city and the current alignment seems to offer the best opportunity to do so.”

“However, the detailed alignment, design, role and operation of the bridge connection needs to be thoughtfully considered to ensure that a workable solution for a river crossing can be achieved.”

The Yarra’s Edge community has been vocal about its resistance to the bridge proposal.

Prior to its November 19 meeting, council receiving 37 items of correspondence in relation to its Fishermans Bend submission, the majority coming from residents.

Additionally, more than 200 people attended a public meeting held by the Marina YE Tenants Committee and Owners Corporation 1 (representing the Yarra’s Edge towers) on the issue in October.

The tenants committee and OC engaged a professional planner and legal experts to produce its formal objection, which was submitted last month.

Marina YE tenants committee chair Phil Lack said he believed the City of Melbourne had received plenty of objections to the bridge and that its statement about further investigation into design options was made to pacify objectors.

He said he was sure talk of making the marina accessible would be dismissed once investigations found an opening bridge to be expensive and impractical.

Labor member for Albert Park (within which Yarra’s Edge falls) Martin Foley has also come out in support of the community and said he had called on Planning Minister Matthew Guy to extend the consultation on the draft vision in Parliament.

“They need to be more strategic about the interests and investments of the existing community,” Mr Foley said.

Yarra’s Edge developer Mirvac has also made a submission on the Fishermans Bend draft vision but declined to comment.

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