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In this three part series the SHPA reviews the Concept Plan for the Level Crossing Removal Project.


PART I DISCUSSES THE CONCEPT PLAN AS IT AFFECTS THE SHOPPING VILLAGES AT MONT ALBERT AND SURREY HILLS


Both shopping villages have co-existed with their local railway stations for over a century and have played a significant role in the social and economic life of the area. They share a village and heritage character fostered by the local community.


The loosening of ties with the railway stations, with one consolidated station located some distance away, could impact the vitality of these two villages and the amenity and community focus they provide for Mont Albert and Surrey Hills.


This could be seen as one of the more negative aspects of the project.


Traders and residents alike have a mutual interest in maintaining the social character and continued economic viability of the two villages.


The Association believes steps need to be taken to address this issue as part of the project.


Recommendations

  • Create direct, wide and safe, well lit pathway connections from the new railway station to both shopping villages

  • Include a new civic focal point in each village, broadly in the location of the present railway stations (to retain the complementary commercial/civic relationship both villages have historically had)

  • At Mont Albert we support the preservation of the old Mont Albert Station building (as envisaged in the Project concept) close to its present site. The heritage of this building reinforces the character of the Mont Albert village and could be put to a community use

  • We note the Mont Albert Station building is subject to a heritage overlay under the Whitehorse Planning Scheme and that the LXRA will be completing a heritage assessment and report under Clause 52.03 (Level Crossing Removal Project) of the planning scheme. The Association believes Whitehorse City Council should be closely consulted, through their heritage adviser, in this work

  • By decking over the railway trench broadly on the footprint of the current station, a new public open space asset could be created which would also be an ideal setting for the heritage station building. The immediate surrounds could become the focal point of the village and be part of an attractive and inviting pedestrian and cycling link highly visible and accessible from the north side of the railway line. In this scenario the old ramps and stairs, for the existing railway station, would be replaced by an even stronger link to the village, with a wide street level pedestrian connection/plaza across the railway line

  • Further, the Association believes it would be important for Whitehorse Council to be actively involved and committed to the long term management and maintenance of the rebuilt Mont Albert Station building, with the involvement of a local community advisory group

  • At Surrey Hills the Association also supports the provision of civic/community open space, on Union Road within the shopping village. They see this as having potential to become the new focal point for Surrey Hills if developed in the form of a unifying civic space

  • To achieve this vision the railway trench would need to be partially covered to amalgamate the two adjacent community/green spaces identified by the LXRA in the Project overview. This would have the added benefit of creating a wide and safe pedestrian and cycling space over the railway line while strengthening the link between the two commercial strips in Union Road

  • Part of the civic space may include a small building or pop up space for local art/craft/heritage and community information with public amenities such as a self cleaning toilet, inbuilt to the design

  • On the west side of Union Road a pedestrian connection within a paved area of generous width could also be provided above the railway, to achieve a strong connection. The opportunity could be taken here to introduce some recreation space for children in a secure and open environment