Acland Street Upgrade rattles community

By  |  0 Comments

By Paul Hart, local resident

I am writing in reference to the ongoing tram terminus build process in Acland Street, St Kilda. Driven to a foregone conclusion by Public Transport Victoria (PTV) and the City of Port Phillip (CoPP), the current plans now under detailed design, will delivery a poor outcome for locals, visitors and businesses.

St Kilda is the second most visited destination in Melbourne after the CBD, Acland Street represents the vibrant community heart of this global attraction. Constructing a tram terminus in the heart of one of Melbourne’s few remaining Villages threatens the delicate balance struck with natural amenity and access for all.

Closing the street between Belford and Barkly St and removing parking along the entire length of Acland Street will dramatically increase confusion experienced by domestic visitors, the gridlock experienced during busy weekends in Acland Village will become a far more common reality for all. The community will suffer with a sharp increase traffic in their side streets as part of the very poor traffic management plan outlined by CoPP – with no identified consideration from VicRoads as yet.

To understand the lack of understanding, community engagement and absolute competence in delivering poor outcome by PTV and the CoPP, you need only look at Fitzroy Street. Once an iconic and vibrant precinct now poisoned by heavy handed delivery of tram services eliminating street parking and reasonable access for cars.

Given this hyper local precedent, one would expect our council to fiercely rally against any form of reduction in access for Acland Street, instead an agenda with PTV within a defined set of variables has been driven to it’s natural conclusion.

As evidenced by Amendement C124, Council and PTV are now working as fast as possible to deliver a poor solution for the community. New and meaningful traffic flow studies alongside a community consultation effort where all options presented by the community and traders can be freely discussed is required. To date, council have been selling a small plaza as the jewel in these changes across the community consultation process rather than truly asking what would you like to see?

Why should the community suffer an arbitrary performance agenda (4 minute turnarounds) being pushed by PTV into their community? Transport solutions should compliment the communities across our city, not terraform them.

I believe PTV’s performance metrics and DDA compliance can be achieved with alternative solutions presented to council previously. PTV and CoPP continue to trumpet growth of the system must occur, yet the solution under design actually reduces it adding additional distance for an already drastically underserved Elwood catchment area.

As per Deputy Mayor, Serge Thomann’s advice, commitments have been made to engage all local traders individually and better understand their needs – particularly around waste, emergency and supplier access. This has not occurred to date and before a road closure is confirmed should be completed prior to any rubber stamping of a permanent road closure.

St Kilda has a history of the locals passionately defending their suburb, it is very concerning that CoPP continue to drive plans for massive change in Acland Village, the St Kilda Triangle and Fitzroy St with no coherent overarching plan. How is this going to deliver a coherent strategy for the entire suburb?

As the cycling capital of Melbourne and possibly Australia, the large and vibrant community of local cyclists drive significant economic advantage to the area with their cafe culture – yet they cannot access Acland Street with no dedicated lanes and the natural danger imposed by tram tracks. Furthermore, the attraction of St Kilda beach through Melbourne’s wonderful gardens leading to St Kilda lends itself to domestic and international visitors cycling to Acland Village yet only reduced access for cyclists is on the agenda with the current plan. This is an unfortunate reality given PTV’s ‘tram only’ agenda for trams. A better mix of transport access needs to be struck.

I urge our council to delay the planned road closure and look forward to receiving a considered response regarding my concerns outlined above.

Find us on FacebookFind us on FacebookFind us on FacebookFind us on Facebook