“Hot”, “exposed” and “no shade”: residents criticise Harbour Esplanade

“Hot”, “exposed” and “no shade”: residents criticise Harbour Esplanade
David Schout

Docklanders have lamented the lack of sun protection and deplored overall heat levels on a prominent waterfront area.

Harbour Esplanade has been described as “hot” and “exposed” by locals, who have criticised the lack of facilities in Docklands that provide respite from the sun.

New above-ground tree planters would not provide respite for some time, according to surveyed Docklanders.

As part of community consultation for the City of Melbourne’s Heat Safe City Principles, and in an effort to understand concerns about extreme heat, earlier this year the council conducted face-to-face engagement across the municipality, including families with young children in Docklands.

According to a council document, feedback centred around a lack of community facilities in Docklands providing respite from the sun, and that the location of the Community Hub and Library was difficult to walk to from the other side of the harbour.

Online surveys that followed asked users to drop a pin on a map to identify “hot spots”, and locals were similarly critical.


“The entire foreshore of the Harbour Esplanade facing Victoria Harbour at Docklands is very hot and offers no real shade other than the odd small tree,” one respondent wrote.


“The distance between them is massive. Even so, the immediate water’s edge area for tourists offers no respite from the heat with, amazingly, no seating options either.”

Another added: “Walking between West Melbourne and Docklands is very exposed and gets very hot at times. The new trees are a welcome addition and might help in a few years, but the walk across the bridge and along Harbour Esplanade is so exposed and hot.”

Others criticised prominent spots nearby.

“All around Marvel Stadium,” another respondent wrote. “So much concrete and no or very little greenery.”

Since the survey, new green space has been created outside the stadium, and five new garden beds were finished at Victoria Point in July.

The City of Melbourne was currently in the process of installing 16 above-ground tree planters along Harbour Esplanade, between the existing Norfolk Island pines and the water’s edge.

The council said it was limited on the amount of permanent greening it could install on the water’s edge, with the site’s mixed use, underground infrastructure, and availability of soil for planting all considerable obstacles.

It was also limited in greening La Trobe Street bridge, due to the weight loading of heavy concrete planters.

Development Victoria told Docklands News that the provision of shade and amenities in the local area was a council responsibility.

The Docklands “Urban Forest Precinct Plan” is due for renewal in 2024, and the City of Melbourne is set to host a workshop where members of the community can share their ideas for the area.

“Melbourne is world-renowned for its urban greenery, from our parks and gardens to our striking tree-lined streets and green rooftops,” Lord Mayor Sally Capp said.

“We’re increasing our canopy cover to almost 40 per cent to provide more shaded and cooler areas for the Docklands community.”  

“We’ve also planted more than 3500 trees in Docklands alone over the past 10 years, including an extra 134 trees this season.”

The council recently partnered with RMIT University to test alternative opportunities to cool the city, the findings of which will inform its next steps in addressing hotspots identified by the community. •

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