CBD precinct for Yarra15 June 20003 - THE North bank of the Yarra - including a large section of Flinders St Station - will be redeveloped as a major public precinct.
The station will lose one or two platforms to make way for the CBD's first waterfront hub. The north bank, Sandridge Rail Bridge revamp and the new Queensbridge Square development in Southbank have been brought together as one project under Melbourne Council's management.
The Sunday Herald Sun this week saw details of the plan, which is due to be launched soon and completed before the Commonwealth Games.
It reveals that only the eastern half of Sandridge Bridge will be developed as a pedestrian walkway, with the remainder stripped back to just its supports.
The $4 million north bank waterfront precinct will stretch 500m from Princes Bridge to Banana Alley.
The precinct - planned to incorporate the station's disused platform 11 and possibly platform 10, which is used by V-Line trains - will have large open spaces on the water, cafes and a youth area.
Facilities in the youth area will include a performance stage, music and screen productions and an artists' zone. A large sculptured graffiti wall, painted over every couple of months by the council, is also being considered.
The station's run-down pedestrian subway between the river and Elizabeth St is to be overhauled, with glazed towers proposed to let in natural light.
And, in the long-term, a new pedestrian walkway is proposed over the rail lines from Sandridge Bridge to Flinders St.
A key feature of the $3.9m Queensbridge Square at the southern end of the bridge will be a tree-lined terrace, with another performance space.
The square will link the $750m three-tower Freshwater Place residential and commercial precinct, being built by Australand.
Melbourne Lord Mayor John So said the plan, along with a $6m refurbishment of Elizabeth St and the demolition of the Flinders St overpass, would enable the CBD to embrace fully the river and Southbank.
The council is due to start the Elizabeth St revamp within weeks.
"This corridor is the missing link,"Cr So said. "With these plans, Elizabeth St will become Melbourne's link to the water, while Swanston St will be its link to the gardens.
"We are looking to create a major precinct on the north bank. The station can spare at least one platform.
"The space will work because it will be vibrant."
Other projects expected to lift the Elizabeth St corridor include the GPO, Melbourne Central and Bourke St Mall redevelopments.
Australand general manager Rob Pradolin said Queensbridge Square would run through an arcade to its Freshwater's square, to be called Freshwater Piazza.
"Queensbridge Square and Freshwater Place will provide an exciting new hub,"Mr Pradolin said.
The State Government was trying to keep the plan confidential yesterday, as negotiations continue over how to open up the north bank without sacrificing too much station land.
Martin Curtis, spokesman for Planning Minister Mary Delahunty, said yesterday: "We are reaching the final stages of negotiation with the council and Australand, but nothing is approved yet."
CBD precinct for Yarra
By CHRIS TINKLER
15 June 20003
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