Seafarers Rest Park edges closer
By Jack Alfonso
A new park will be created at Seafarers Rest in Docklands after City of Melbourne councillors endorsed updated designs at a Future Melbourne Committee (FMC) meeting on April 20.
The 3500 sqm park will be located on the north bank of the Yarra River between the heritage Mission to Seafarers building, Seafarers Bridge and developer Riverlee’s current restoration and redevelopment of the heritage Goods Shed No.5.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the new park would be a “valuable link” to Docklands, while “increasing public open space” and “providing access to our maritime district”.
“Delivering the Greenline, a connected series of green spaces and amenity along the north bank of the Yarra is one my key priorities,” Cr Capp said.
Community consultation revealed that park users wanted a safe space for both cyclists and pedestrians, and that local history must be represented in the redevelopment of the park – all of which the Lord Mayor said were factored into the updated park design.
“The updated park design has taken feedback from the community on board,” she said. “[It] now includes widened paths for pedestrians, a diverse range of seating options to cater to different needs and experiences, and improved access through the space.”
“This is a part of our river network on the north bank which is much neglected and we are seeing a renewed interest from the private sector and government to turn that around. The celebration of our maritime history is a strong feature of this positioning.”
The project is being delivered in line with the council’s Open Space Strategy and Docklands Public Realm Plan. Key stakeholder groups, including the Naval Association of Australia, Melbourne Maritime Heritage Network (MMHN), Traditional Owners and a Disability Advisory Committee, have all been consulted.
While highly supportive of the new park, MMHN president Ross Brewer expressed concern at the April 20 FMC meeting with a lack of access to, and visibility of the Mission to Seafarers building.
“It [the Mission building] must be able to be seen and accessed properly,” he said.
“It seems to be covered behind the trees so you wouldn’t be able to see from the river. It really needs to be visible and linked to the park. In the future the building will have an entrance to the river again.”
The council’s environmental portfolio lead Cr Rohan Leppert said it was “premature” to be considering a future entrance without knowing the extent of the heritage works.
“It’s a heritage-listed building and until we know how a new entrance will look it is premature to look at how we open up to it,” he said.
Cr Leppert added that the new park would “revitalise” Docklands’ riverfront by “becoming a meeting point”, particularly for nearby Siddely St residents.
“There is quite a residential presence in the area – residents of Siddeley St have put up with so many issues in the area, such as helipads and now the delivery of the park will really improve the area in so many wonderful ways,” he said.
“The design includes a number of play options including new equipment and recreational spaces, while also providing safe access for pedestrians and cyclists, an events deck and connections to our maritime heritage.”
The project is being delivered by the council in partnership with the state government and developer Riverlee. Designed by landscape architects OCULUS, the park is expected to be finished in 2023.
According to a draft memorandum of understanding, funding for the park’s design, construction and structural remediation works will be provided by Riverlee, while the Department of Treasury and Finance will contribute the land for the park and some structural remediation costs.
Riverlee’s Seafarers project will see a new 17-level mixed-use development built on the neighbouring Good Shed No.5 site, and feature the already restored, heritage-listed crane.
Riverlee development director David Lee said the park was significant in bringing the Seafarers project to life, creating accessible green space and allowing enhanced connections to a revitalised Northbank precinct.
“Seafarers Rest has been part of Riverlee’s plan to transform this somewhat forgotten part of the city for many years, so we are excited to officially be progressing with our plans in creating a green, open space by the river for everyone to enjoy,” he said.
“Through a highly collaborative process, we are proud to make possible the largest programmed park outside of Birrarrung Marr that allows for connection with the river.”
“Our vision involves a greener Northbank that does not forget the origins of the site. We are entwining history into the park that will ultimately be the gateway to Northbank for those coming via Seafarers Bridge.”
The council is also continuing feasibility studies into a maritime heritage precinct in Docklands, which is largely focused on the possible repurposing of part of the Mission to Seafarers building.
The MMHN, which has been central to consultations on the future precinct, said it continued to advocate strongly for a “world-class” Melbourne Waterways Maritime Trail, as well as the resurrection of Central Pier •
For more information: participate.melbourne.vic.gov.au