The Hoddle Grid is set to score its first new public park in almost four decades, with plans unveiled for a 1900-square-metre open space around the much-hyped Collins Arc development. That's the $1.3 billion precinct at 447 Collins Street — the one that looks like a pair of pants — that will house residential apartments, retail shops and an indulgent W Melbourne hotel when it launches in 2020.
When development plans were first announced by property development group Cbus in 2016, we were promised, in exchange for a hefty 41-storey building, a new park in the CBD. Now, as the development gets closer to its late-2019 completion date, the designs have been revealed to the public. The proposed park takes over the discontinued stretch of Market Street, and boasts new seating, wide bluestone paths to accommodate plenty of pedestrians, improved access to public transport options and space for hosting public events.
A new bike lane would be incorporated along the eastern side of Market Street, connecting it to Queensbridge Street so cyclists can travel up or down the Yarra or on to South Melbourne. The other side would become public space, and the rest split between a single-lane carriageway, parking and more bike access. A variety of tree plantings have also been proposed in an effort to reduce stormwater run-off.
These plans now stand to be considered by the City of Melbourne's Future Melbourne Committee, which will meet on September 18. But while new public space sounds like a win, some Melburnians have criticised the development as the new park will be smaller than the original public plaza. The Age has pulled out some of its readers' responses to the plans — some call out the designs as being simply a fancy foyer space for the development, with others questioning whether the space is really enough of a 'park' to be labelled so.
It seems likely that the plans will be approved by the committee next week as the Collins Arch development is well under way. While the park may err on the side of a few glorified patches of grass, the new greenery and trees will certainly make a difference and be a welcome change to the block as it stands now. We'll keep you posted on the status of the park once we know if the plans have been approved.