Port Phillip housing estate just got cooler

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By Brett Douglas

Work was recently completed on a new outdoor shelter and communal area for residents at 482 Williamstown Rd, Port Melbourne. An official opening party was held on 13 May and was attended by local Councillors, tenants, and various support agencies. The roofed outdoor shelter provides a large space for residents to congregate and includes a barbeque area with picnic tables and seating, which is welcome relief during the hot summer months.

Residents are very happy with their new space and say it is a vast improvement on how things used to be. In summertime the heat inside their apartments is often unbearable, and there was previously no enclosed outdoor area for them to use. So they raised the issue with council and together they came up with a solution. The project was funded from a variety of sources, including council, local support agencies, local businesses, and even the residents themselves who held various fund-raising ventures.

The City of Port Phillip provided a $10,000 Small Poppy Neighbourhood grant. Local businesses got on board and donated various materials: Bunnings donated plants, Bob Janes donated Coles gift cards which were used to buy materials, and the local Bay n Bridge hotel donated meat for the official opening barbeque. The Port Phillip EcoCentre and Melbourne School of Design also provided their valuable expertise for the project.

The residents have spent many hours constructing and planting their own gardens, and are growing a variety fruits, vegetables, and herbs. The gardens were recently extended and upgraded as part of the building project, with the aim of providing a “green wall” on the side of the main apartment building. This consists of sections of trellis which run from the bottom to the top of the building. At the bottom of each section is a planter box where residents have planted grapes, passionfruit, and other climbing plants. Once the plants are well established, these sections should provide a “green wall” to block out direct sunlight and help keep the building cool in summer. A rainwater catchment system was also recently installed to provide water for the gardens.

Mayor Amanda Stevens said the communal area is an important upgrade for the Williamstown Rd estate to support residents’ activities and lifestyles with friends and family. “The shelter will provide estate residents with a sense of pride and ownership in the place they live and will help in creating a sense of community” Mayor Stevens said.

Residents Jake Hapeta and Peter Roberts have been working hard for many months to get the gardens looking good. Jake even made the wooden planter boxes himself out of used pallets donated by a local business. Where possible they have re-used building materials in keeping with the project’s sustainable focus. Peter Roberts has also worked on the gardens for several years and even painted some artwork on the wall of one of the buildings (see photos). Together with the other residents they were recognised in the 2015 ‘Victoria in Bloom’ Regional Awards, winning the award for Best Community Garden in the South Division. They take a great sense of pride in their achievements and are very happy with the changes that have been made at the property.

The roofed structure is only temporary, and architects recently drew up plans for a permanent two-storey building which will incorporate the existing barbeque area and open out onto the gardens. That project is planned for the future. In the meantime the residents are enjoying their new space and making the most of it.


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