The conversation

Community engagement on the Draft Greenline Implementation Plan took place from August to October 2021. The implementation plan sets out a bold and transformational vision for the revitalisation of the north bank of the river, guiding the prioritisation and development of five precincts covering four kilometres between Birrarung Marr and the Bolte Bridge.

Due to Melbourne’s COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, Council had to rely almost entirely on digital engagement, and promoted the engagement opportunities through a number of online platforms and hard copy materials in an attempt to capture a broad and diverse range of community perspectives.

The purpose of the community engagement was to:

  • Raise awareness of Council’s draft vision for the Greenline.
  • Understand community priorities for the way spaces will function along the river’s edge.
  • Reach a broad-cross section of our community and receive useful quantitative and qualitative data that can be used to engage with stakeholders and landowners to help realise the Greenline.
  • Communicate the ongoing engagement program which will include further engagement on individual projects as they are developed.

Gathering insights

During the consultation process, the Draft Greenline Implementation Plan was available for download and review, and key extracts and plans were made available directly via Participate Melbourne.

The community were invited to complete a survey which established how people use the existing north bank of the Yarra River, Birrarung, and suggestions for the future of the Greenline, both as a whole and as a series of individual precincts and places.

In addition to consulting the community, Council also ran two sets of workshops with targeted stakeholders to develop a shared Greenline vision, identify opportunities, and seek advice on how best to engage with partners through current and future delivery stages.

This stage of engagement was the first in an ongoing and evolving program of collaboration across all stages of the Greenline program. Due to Melbourne’s COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, Council had to rely almost entirely on digital engagement, with no opportunity for face-to-face engagement. The Participate Melbourne opportunities were promoted through a number of online platforms and hard copy materials in an attempt to capture a broad and diverse range of community perspectives.

A range of methods were used to promote the online consultation:

What we heard

The overall response to the Draft Greenline Implementation Plan was overwhelmingly supportive with the majority of people showing great enthusiasm for the project and its outcomes for residents and visitors to Melbourne. There is a general sense that the proposal will result in positive change however it was widely acknowledge that it will require ongoing commitment to maintain enthusiasm and realise its full potential.

390 people completed the survey, of which 48% were local residents, 21% regular visitors and 10% business owners/workers. Almost 70% of people strongly believe that the plan will support the creation of lively riverfront precincts.

In particular, feedback on the overarching draft implementation plan focused heavily on:

  • Opportunities to enhance greening and improve the environmental health of both the riverbank and water components of the precinct.
  • Enhancing the natural landscaping to increase its contribution to the local environment and biodiversity, public open space, active transport, and community health and wellbeing through the upcoming period of COVID-19 recovery.

Of the people who shared their feedback, over half (51%) said that exercise and recreation bring them to the river’s north bank. A further 14% cited relaxation as their reasons for visiting the area or that commuting, either by foot (6%) or by bicycle (8%) as a reason for their visit. Less prevalent reasons included visiting the area, going to events, having a lunch break and children’s play opportunities.

Feedback by theme

The draft Greenline Implementation Plan set out four themes and feedback was collected under each of these including environment, culture, place and connection.

We heard:

  • Enhancing the natural features and improving river health and local biodiversity were strongly recognised as significant opportunities for significant improvement. Participants reflected on the increasing importance of connection with nature and open space emerging through the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Respondents reiterated the importance of incorporating a focus on greening and natural elements to encourage wildlife back to the precinct and improve river health, support community health and wellbeing, and to assist in airflow as part of COVID-19 recovery.

We heard:

  • Contributions relating to culture fell across four broad categories: celebrating Aboriginal cultural heritage, respecting and preserving maritime history, enhancing and promoting local character and providing an inclusive and engaging diversity of programs and uses.
  • Participants appreciated the plan’s extensive engagement with Aboriginal, maritime and city history and felt that heritage and the narrative of the river could be incorporated into all elements including play and connections. However, respondents often felt that the plan could do more to address the incorporation of heritage elements – both indigenous and post-colonial or maritime history.

We heard:

  • The majority of respondents strongly agreed that the implementation plan should focus on creating different kinds of open spaces, particularly those that encourage connections with the river and nature.
  • Public open spaces were specifically recognised as high value assets, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there was some division regarding the distribution and design of open space for formal and informal uses.
  • Participants made suggestions for additional components and infrastructure to support new activities and uses incusing more public amenities such as food, drink, events, and art, a public swimming pool and more off-leash dog areas.

We heard:

  • Connections within the Greenline area and to surrounding precincts and activity nodes was an issue of high important for respondents.
  • Respondents generally had positive reactions to the creation of open spaces and better active transport links throughout the north bank. However, some were eager to see more done to separate different transport modes from each other, and to reduce the noise and visual impacts of the Flinders Street rail corridor. Separation of pedestrian and cycle paths was suggested as a way to enhance safety throughout the Greenline area.
  • The opportunity to address the rail interface through decking and undergrounding was also raised as well as impacts of the Greenline on boating movements.
  • Additional access requirements were noted for people with vision and hearing impairment, neurodiversity and chronic illness, as well as people with prams and young children.

Feedback by precinct

Participants were then asked what they value most about respective precincts. The feedback shows that views and access to Yarra River, Birrarung was the highest rated value overall (87%) with the majority of participants also valuing the natural environment (67%) and recreation and play (57%).

“It is an extensive plan that uses a previously challenged area. The concept of linking from Birrarung Marr to Docklands is wonderful to encourage people to use an extensive area previously limited to patches of open spaces. This extensive plan will encourage more use and be an attraction. It will also bring the river into special focus. The link with Aboriginal Melbourne is such a special and long awaited relationship”


“It's currently disjointed, with areas that do not feel safe. The city needs areas that are free to access that make people want to come into the city”


“The Greenline, will provide an opportunity for locals and visitors to have access to areas of the city that were previously seen as off limit and therefore, opening up the area and the opportunities that might exist there”


“It needs to be more than a park along the river. Landscape and seating is not enough to attract people to spend their time there. It requires other spaces that are more engaging”


“It will support nearby businesses as it attracts people to the precinct. It diverts people towards the city which is needed to rebuild the economy and it’s accessible via public transport so people all around Melbourne can enjoy the space”


“People are thirsty (!) for knowledge about Melbourne's history and I think this walk could bring more to people than 'play' - it would be an excellent opportunity to inform people about our rich maritime heritage”


“Less focus on being so prescriptive about activity and infrastructure for activity … More focus on just providing open, safe, appealing spaces that people can use for their choice of activity”


“Please separate wheeled vehicles and pedestrians. Southbank is scary due to mingling of pedestrians and wheeled vehicles. Bikes, skateboards, rollerblades, scooters etc. Mobility scooters are not a problem due to low speed”

“This could be such a great place… The gravel is a mistake given it is one of the only areas of the north bank to have good solar access”


“…The rigid public liability aspect of only built marquees make it prohibitive to community events…”


Graph showing what respondents value most about Birrarung Marr Precinct:

  • 18% - natural environment
  • 19% - views and access to the Yarra River
  • 12% - views of the city
  • 12% - Aboriginal significance
  • 7% - character and heritage
  • 13% - recreation and play
  • 4% - destinations
  • 8% - events
  • 7% - it's a cool space during hot days.

“Access to the river [and safety] in this precinct is particularly poor, with few paths and fairly hostile environments across Flinders Street and under the viaduct”


“At the moment it is very cramped and accessibility especially for recreational cyclists is not good. Also look at ways of providing commuting riders alternative dedicated routes so they are not speeding through pedestrians”


Graph showing what respondents value most about Yarro Yarro Precinct:

  • 13% - natural environment
  • 18% - views and access to the Yarra River
  • 11% - views of the city
  • 11% - Aboriginal significance
  • 9% - character and heritage
  • 13% - recreation and play
  • 5% - destinations
  • 4% - events
  • 7% - it's a cool space during hot days.

“More consideration needs to be given to how this might become a place to 'stay' as opposed to transit through. There isn't enough seating, and the ground is often wet. Furthermore, no mention of the heliport has been made which significantly impacts the usability of this park as a recreational space due to the overbearing noise impacts”


Graph showing what respondents value most about River Park Precinct:

  • 16% - natural environment
  • 17% - views and access to the Yarra River
  • 8% - views of the city
  • 8% - Aboriginal significance
  • 9% - character and heritage
  • 13% - recreation and play
  • 4% - destinations
  • 3% - events
  • 5% - it's a cool space during hot days.

“For quite a large park on the river bank, this precinct is extremely neglected. Creating a welcoming, interesting and inspiring environment through landscaping and architectural features would be great”


“Accessibility and the restoration/reinvigoration of the heritage sites along the wharf. These places are part of the “Marvellous Melbourne” era and currently are a detracting detail in an otherwise well-kept part of the river. Keeping key elements, like the old crane, whilst turning the rest into culturally aware green space with accessibility is what needs the most urgent attention”


Graph showing what respondents value most about Maritime Precinct:

  • 10% - natural environment
  • 14% - views and access to the Yarra River
  • 8% - views of the city
  • 7% - Aboriginal significance
  • 9% - character and heritage
  • 8% - recreation and play
  • 3% - destinations
  • 4% - events
  • 3% - it's a cool space during hot days.

“This has the most potential for proper recreational space rather than "parks" that are simply landscaping around buildings. Using this park area for again native wetlands and also entertainment / busking and food truck area could help make it a destination”


“Utilisation of the space and awareness of the environment. This area has the confluence of many water sources and as such should become a key wetland a river revitalisation point”


Graph showing what respondents value most about Salt Water Wharf Precinct:

  • 11% - natural environment
  • 18% - views and access to the Yarra River
  • 9% - views of the city
  • 6% - Aboriginal significance
  • 10% - character and heritage
  • 11% - recreation and play
  • 3% - destinations
  • 3% - events
  • 3% - it's a cool space during hot days.

Impact

Community feedback helped assist Council in understanding the community’s key priorities and concerns. This in turn informed how Council revise and finalise the Greenline Implementation Plan.

Feedback from this first round of engagement will also help to inform how future engagement sessions are planned and executed for the Greenline, and how Council can continually improve engagement practices.

Next steps

Moving forward, the Greenline team is committed to working with local communities and stakeholders in an ongoing capacity and will return with further consultation opportunities on each of the Greenline’s individual precincts as their design proposals are developed.

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