Locals left in the dark over path closure
Local residents and community groups are demanding answers about the long-standing closure of the shared path along the Moonee Ponds Creek in Docklands, despite previous confirmation from the Victorian Government it would remain accessible to the public.
Where once locals could stroll along the Moonee Ponds Creek trail from Ron Barassi Snr Park to Footscray Rd, people now have to divert along Pearl River Rd – a bitumen footpath alongside heavy traffic.
Friends of Moonee Ponds Creek’s (FoMPC) former secretary Kaye Oddie said the group was “angered” by Development Victoria’s (DV) decision to permanently close the shared path for the construction of a new sound stage at the Docklands Film Studio site.
“And not only to close off the path, but to excise the land the path was on, giving it to the sound stage development for car parking – ensuring that a path could not be reinstated,” she said.
Local resident John Langton-Bunker said one of the “delights” he had when he moved to Docklands was the Moonee Ponds Creek trail from Ron Barassi Snr park to Footscray Rd.
“The sound studio works are complete, but we are not allowed to use the trail anymore,” he said.
“Walking along Pearl River Rd is not a park but a bitumen footpath and is dangerous. Is the trail to be opened again or is the studio allowed to build whatever it likes next to the creek?”
Ms Oddie said when the Port of Melbourne was privatised and given a long lease by the state government in 2015, FoMPC was concerned that the existing open space below Footscray Rd to the Yarra River would be closed off.
At the time of the privatisation, FoMPC wrote to the state government expressing concerns about loss of public access to the open space corridor.
In a letter from the then Minister for Ports Luke Donnellan to the FoMPC dated October 14, 2015 seen by Docklands News, the Minister confirmed that public access to open spaces such as the shared path at the Moonee Ponds Creek trail would be retained.
“I confirm that the government’s position, which has been publicly stated, is that public access to such open space areas will be retained post the lease transaction,” Minister Donnellan wrote.
Ms Oddie said FoMPC was angered by the subsequent decision, with the knowledge of the City of Melbourne and Bicycle Victoria, to close off the shared path in November 2020 despite the Ministerial letter confirming “ongoing public access be provided”.
“So, pedestrians enjoying the shared path alongside the waterway from Footscray Rd to Ron Barassi Snr Park were now expected to use an unattractive detour: Pearl River Rd, between buildings and car parks, with a long detour back to the creek!” she said.
DV’s group head of precincts Geoff Ward said DV was working on a “range of potential options” for the reinstatement of the Moonee Ponds Creek trail.
“While we’re only in the very early stages of scoping this work – Development Victoria will continue to work with the City of Melbourne and engage with all relevant stakeholders in the development of any proposals that are put forward to create a new trail,” Mr Ward said •