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

PART 2 REVIEWS THE NEW RAILWAY STATION AND SURROUNDS


The Surrey Hills Progress Association supports the creation of a new “Premium” station and the site selected, on the only straight section of rail available, based on engineering advice provided by the LXRA project team.


The details around this precinct however need further explanation. For example, it is difficult to appreciate the architectural form, scale and design of the railway station building without plans beyond the artists impressions provided.

Referring to Lorne Parade, it is difficult to think of many railway stations that abut a small local residential street, and with the main entrance directly fronting the street. What are the precedents and how have they been handled?


The Project concept certainly suggests a dramatic transformation of Lorne Parade, with the potential loss of an established avenue of mature vegetation alongside the railway line; the loss of on street car parking and the conversion of a narrow two way low traffic volume residential street into a one way busy railway station street.


On the other side of the railway line Beresford Street is to be closed between Mont Albert Road and Gordon Street and a major drop off area created.


While the Association supports the location and siting of the proposed railway station, it believes the concept plan needs review with respect to the visual and pedestrian connection and urban design of the station, as it relates to Mont Albert Road.


The existing Mont Albert railway station is located on the north side of the Hamilton Street shopping village. The new railway station is to take up a position abutting the south side of the village, more so with the possible development of a large retail store almost opposite the site.


The Association believes the Mont Albert village traders and the community will be best served by the railway station having a stronger connection to the village than the concept plan contemplates. Further, that the public space around the station should present as a more open and green space facing Mont Albert Road.


The Association’s vision is of an attractively landscaped frontage, of soft and hard landscaping, with wide pedestrian and bicycle pathways that lead directly, or meander, from Mont Albert Road through a large station forecourt. This would provide an open, welcoming, secure and attractive front vista, combined with an appropriate architectural treatment.


It would give the station more identity and a visual connection with the Mont Albert village and enhanced legibility for other public transport using Mont Albert Road and for commuters and others from outside the immediate area. It would also specifically relieve pressure on the Lorne Parade residential interface.


Such a design revision would be in stark contrast to the hard edged closed in, internalised and structural feel of the proposed concept, sitting about 100 metres down a residential side street off Mont Albert Road – as depicted in the artist impressions.


Recommendations

  • · The new station is to be situated between two narrow, local side streets. As it is replacing two stations it is anticipated that car and pedestrian traffic will be more concentrated and higher in overall volume. The impacts on other nearby local roads are unknown. This calls for a detailed traffic and car parking study of the existing situation and the projected ramifications of the new arrangements. The local councils must lead such an assessment in close collaboration with the Authority and ensure appropriate recommendations are adopted

  • The new station building design should better respect the close residential interface and the low rise built form character of the adjacent area. This site is tucked away within a tight residential precinct. It does not stand boldly on a busy main or secondary road or in a wide open public setting. It is therefore unsuited, in the Association’s view, to a distinctly modern and generic style of architecture that may fit other contexts

  • For this particular site the Association therefore supports a modest profile recessive form of architecture, not a sharp edged assertive steel and concrete structure. A subtle roof form and use of some brick and timber materials in a contemporary style would be preferred in this setting

  • In due course, more detailed information on the design including building elevations, materials and finishes and overall building heights and setbacks would be welcome as consultation on the project proceeds

  • Information in regard to the floor space components of the new premium station would also be welcome, including whether any retail floor space is included?

  • Creation of a large pedestrian forecourt that comes forward in a northerly direction towards Mont Albert Road from the subsidiary entrance to the station, to either fully cover or at least partially cover the railway lines. This should be of sufficient width for walking and cycling from Mont Albert Road and provide space for vegetation on either side. This could create a distinctive plaza like space (a northern concourse) that ensures the station has a visible and functional link orientated to Mont Albert Road and the Mont Albert village

  • The possible route of the bicycle/shared path from the old station precinct, along the railway reserve and then under Mont Albert Road, could bring the bike link out at the north-east station entrance via the northern concourse. Alternatively, cyclists could ride down the west side of Lorne Parade on the bike track to the main station entrance on Windsor Crescent. The bicycle path should preferably have landscaping beside, that softens the outlook along this residential street

  • With regard to Surrey Hills, the Association notes the design and site layout of the station entrances will be the subject of further consultation. For example, of interest is how the ‘blue’ coloured areas, in the Project concept, within Lorne Parade Reserve and at the south end of Wilson Street will be designed and integrated with the station.

Does the Wilson Street site, for example, allow access for people to walk through the station precinct to Lorne Parade Reserve on the other side? This would provide a local neighbourhood connection, especially for school children walking to their primary school (which may be Our Holy Redeemer School on the north side of the railway line or Surrey Hills Primary School on the south side) and for people from the north, living as they do in an area lacking close local open space, to access Lorne Parade Reserve.

Contact

©2018 BY SURREY HILLS PROGRESS ASSOCIATION INC.

Mailing address:  C/- 157 Union Road, Surrey Hills Vic 3127

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