Fed Square in the public eye

Federation Square’s governance model and its connection to the Yarra River are priority concerns for the public according to the first report from the square’s ongoing review.

Melburnians also want a revamp of Federation Square to improve the site’s overall connectivity, green space, accessibility, programming and hospitality offerings, the state government report showed.

Responses outlined a priority desire for “better connections to the Yarra River, Birrarung Marr, and the sporting and arts precincts beyond.”

Connection to the river had been one of Apple’s selling points in its proposal to demolish and replace the square’s Yarra building. 

As a result, The Age reported Our City, Our Square – the group that protested the Apple proposal – would oppose the new report’s conclusion. 

But the group responded to The Age to declare an open attitude to opening the square up to the river as long as it wasn’t “at the expense of preserving the civic square as a gathering place.” 

“As we wrote in our submission to the review, Fed Square must be shaped in ways that enhance its public and heritage values.” 

Our City Our Square president Tania Davidge said that community and stakeholders agreed Federation Square “is a wonderful place.”

“We look forward to the next stage of the review and hope that, in line with Fed Square’s civic value as our public square, community voices will continue to be included in decision making processes at Fed Square.”

The report also found the “management and governance of Federation Square requires priority attention.”

Those surveyed tended to believe the square’s current financial model was not sustainable and the square’s management needed to offer better support for tenants and events.

It found the governance model required “clarification and improvement.” 

Many Melburnians were surprised to learn from the Apple proposal that the square was not publicly funded.

Local Melburnians, Victorians and other visitors to the Square were surveyed as community members, while stakeholders included tenants, heritage stakeholders, government agencies and festival, tourism and events personnel.

The report also highlighted desire for low-key alterations to the square’s architecture and design, including more shade and greenery, and improved accessibility. 

Minister for tourism, sport and major events Martin Pakula said the government was “delighted by the response” received from the review.

The final Federation Square review report will be provided to the government early this year.

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