Funds for CBD projects

The CBD is to benefit from some new capital works announced in the City of Melbourne’s draft 2017/18 budget.

The council plans to allocate $1.5 million to close to traffic the eastern side of Elizabeth St, between Flinders St and Flinders Lane.

It has also earmarked $800,000 for 360 more “big bellied” rubbish bins, which hold seven times as much waste as standard bins and take far fewer truck trips to empty.

The council also plans to spend $29 million on its Queen Victoria Market redevelopment in 2017/18, $200,000 on waste compactors and a further $1.3 million redeveloping Council House 1 in Little Collins St.

The council has said it has no plans to increase parking fines or fees.

At his May 4 budget press conference, Lord Mayor Robert Doyle elaborated on some of these local projects.

Elizabeth St

“Only 4 per cent of vehicles which enter Elizabeth St travel its full length,” Cr Doyle said.  “Our traffic engineers have told us we would not alter the traffic flow if we close the Swanston St side and bring the footpaths out and plant trees on there and give it the sort of love that we’ve given other streets.”

“You do need the other side (to remain open) because people turn out of Flinders, left into Elizabeth and then left again into Flinders Lane to access the private car parks that are there.”

Council House 1

“CH1 is now in such a state that I must say that I feel slightly ashamed that we ask our people to work in there,” Cr Doyle said.  “They are not appropriate, modern, working conditions so we are going to have to find replacement accommodation.”

“There are many options of what we could do.  We haven’t made any decisions, and that’s why we’re going to do the work this year.  We could, for example, take advantage of the fact that Melbourne Metro will mean that there will be new space available around Young and Jacksons.”

“Now we’re going to need a new visitor centre because the visitor centre at Federation Square will go. One option for us is to think of moving our staff to there and that might mean selling one of these buildings. Another option might be to refurbish our own buildings so we keep people on this site and use those buildings in a better way.  It’s difficult to build higher on CH1 because of the age of the building.  How might we use the space between CH1 and 225 Bourke St, which is also ours, including that car park there?”

Queen Victoria Market

“The Munro development plans are, I think, the best that I’ve seen in my time as Lord Mayor,” Cr Doyle said.  “And so it should be, considering that it’s our development.”

“If we want others to be exemplars, we should be exemplars ourselves.  It ticks every single box.  I want to be able to have that debate publicly and I want to be able to have it with the minister.  Of all the developments at the Queen Victoria Market it is not the Munro site.  It’s not the heritage sheds. It’s actually getting the cars off 1.5 hectares of asphalt that is Melbourne’s oldest cemetery and returning that to public open space.”

Parking fees and fines

“There are fewer cars coming into the city … and that’s a good thing,” Cr Doyle said.  “And we’re removing car spaces I think at a rate of about 200 a year. So there are fewer on-street parks anyway.  The other thing is that people are using alternative modes.  You will notice how full the trams are. Cycling has gone from 7 per cent of journeys in the morning peak to now 17 per cent.  The one that’s falling is parking fines (because compliance is up).”

The council’s draft 2017/18 budget will be considered at a Future Melbourne Committee meeting on Thursday, June 15.

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