Save Our Acland Street

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By Mark Lopez

“A St Kilda resident who cares about Acland Street”

 

The relentless march of a developmental catastrophe currently threatens the 280 most precious metres of one of the most beloved entertainment and shopping precincts in Melbourne, the internationally famous and iconic Acland Street.

Why? The state government bought the wrong trams! The 50 new E-Class trams are too big. Instead of buying or making trams to suit our city, they are now changing our city to suit the trams. This is not a change for the better.

The story gets worse. One mistake is compounded by another. The next part of this developing policy disaster involves installing, in close proximity, unnecessarily enormous super trams stops, which turn busy two-lane carriageways into one-lane traffic jams.

Bureaucrats at Public Transport Victoria, Yarra Trams and the City of Port Phillip want to plonk one of these monstrosities right in the middle of Acland Street.

The policy is a mistake. But how do we save Acland Street for all of us who love it the way it is? The problem is compounded by the fact that the people making the decisions are separate from the people who will bear the costs.

If they go ahead with their ‘grand plan’ and it fails, which it will, they will simply go ‘Oops!’ and that will be that for them.

However, the costs will be borne by us – the Acland Street traders, the locals, the many Melbournians who value this fabulous destination for outings, and the international visitors who regard it as a delightful and memorable part of the St Kilda tourism experience.

The notion of turning Acland Street into a mall is a sweetener. Don’t fall for it.  The policy makers behind this do not care one way or another about a mall. They want the super tram stop. The mall is mentioned because they know that most of us love the idea of a mall; the very word has connotations of leisurely, pedestrian-friendly public spaces.

But this proposal cannot become a true mall. This is a narrow street that will have an enormous super tram stop plonked into it, and the frequent tram movements will destroy the amenity of the environment. No carefree leisure will be found here.

What they call a ‘mall’ will in actuality be a giant transport terminus with a few nearby shops crammed close by. That is, if these businesses survive the changes. Haven’t you noticed how many once-busy shops next to super tram stops soon become vacant? Check out Fitzroy Street or Bridge Road to see for yourself.

The local traders have been imperilled by this proposal. They are understandably worried. Family businesses established over generations could go under. A precious heritage-rich area, providing Melbourne with a living vibrant multiculturalism that governments claim to support could be wrecked, and the happiness will drain from one of the most charming corners of our city.

That is why I am so concerned for Acland Street and why I have written this plea for common sense on behalf of the Acland Street Traders. I hope it helps.

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