Video

Transcript

Expert Panel Goes Live

Chris Robinson – Facilitator

Well good evening. Good evening and welcome to this evening's live Facebook discussion, regarding the Level Crossing Removal Project for Caulfield and Dandenong, and specifically looking at the 2.5 hectares of land which will be generated as a result of this project.

My name is Chris Robinson. I'll be your Facilitator tonight. Hopefully hosting a really in depth conversation with our panel members who I will introduce in a moment.

Firstly, I'm joined by Mr Tim Entwisle, Professor Tim Entwisle, Chair of COSEP. Good evening Tim.

Professor Tim Entwisle

We have also Sophie Patitsas from the Victorian local – Victorian Government Architect Office, is that right.

Sophie Patitsas

Sophie Patitsas, yes.

Chris Robinson

Patitsas, very good. I knew I was going to get this. We'll see how we go.

Tim Griffin from the Level Crossing Removal Authority. Thank you. And Matthew, one of our four community members on COSEP. So, thank you all for joining us tonight.

Tonight's event will go live for 20 or so minutes, and we'll be answering as many questions as we can through this evening. The questions have been coming through prior to this evening's event. And also we invite you to post your questions online live as we go through this evening.

We are – we invite you also to share tonight's video to make sure maximum number of people can have an opportunity to participate this evening.

Now we may not have an opportunity to answer every question, but we certainly will encourage you to get online afterwards, and continue the conversation about an important part of Melbourne's new public open space infrastructure.

For those who have just joined us, welcome. And, we're here with some members from the Community Open Space Panel. And, we've received some questions earlier regarding the open space area.

So, first of the questions came through this evening from Danica Dalton, and she asks near Clayton, what family park areas will be provided? And, as it's changing demographic area, and I don't think that that's been considered enough in the planning. And, what of young people and young families, how have they been considered as part of this process?

So, perhaps Tim to start with, and then maybe Sophie, would that be all right?

Tim Griffin – Level Crossing Removal Authority

Yeah. So, we've been working closely with local councils, so Clayton, the City of Monash, and also the other members of the Community Open Space Expert Panel, to understand the needs of the local communities, both for now and also into the future. So, we're trying to design the spaces so it's located for all those needs, being near transport hubs, and particularly Clayton, also considering the people moving through the precincts so they will want to stop and use the spaces that we're designing. So, particularly at Clayton, that's the Monash medical precincts, Monash Uni, so trying to consider all those people that are going to use the spaces. So, not just for families but for everyone, so we're really taking an intergenerational approach to the designs, so they're not just for one particular user. We're trying to design them such that a range of people can use them, and at the same time as well. So, at Clayton that could be a spot to just sit and gather. Or we're also looking at potentially sports courts in the area that could perhaps second as an event space or a market space as well, so a bit of flexibility in the design. And potentially some outdoor gym equipment as well that again could be for adults or could be for kids to just sort of muck around on.

Chris Robinson

Thanks Tim. Sophie, from a perspective of youth and young families, what sort of design of response do you think that COSEP have been considering during this process?

Sophie Patitsas

Well I think, I mean Tim has really picked up on a lot of the issues that have come up in COSEP. And really – it's really about catering to a range of age groups. And I think that scales are very important, having focused activity, maximising opportunities for connections, they're the sorts of things that we're really trying to address and think about in the design. And we've got a great team of designers really thinking about that and responding to expert advice from Council, from consultants in that space that really talk to intergenerational play. So Aron Wallace has been coming to the panel sessions and giving us expert advice on that. So I think the panel discussion that has taken place has really taken that on board. And we really are talking to a range of age groups really, in terms of the way we design the spaces.

Chris Robinson

Yeah. Terrific. Thank you.

Sophie Patitsas

Yeah.

Chris Robinson

We'll try to get through as many questions if we can panel. Mary Kelly Harper has previously asked, perhaps this is a question to you Professor Tim. How many mature trees will you be putting back into the space to replace the ones you've removed, and how mature will they be? Perhaps both Tims could have a go at that question. Tim G?

Tim Griffin

Yeah. We'll be planting thousands of new trees. Obviously with the train lines being elevated it creates a much bigger ground play in which to work with and to plant new trees. So, there'll be a range of things that we'll go into whether the size of the trees, when they go in. And perhaps Tim can talk to that a little bit. But we'll certainly look to get a range of plant sizes at the start, and we're sort of in that process now of trying to find and source the mature plants that sort of already need to be in existence and already growing for us to purchase them. But that will just be in selected areas and we will have some small plants as well.

Chris Robinson

Professor Tim, your role at the Royal Botanic Gardens you've seen lots of challenges with trees old and new. What's some of your insights about how do we deal with that on this particular project?

Professor Tim Entwisle

Well look, the community is fascinated and always interested in trees. So that's the variety you have, and we get some people that love to have Australian native trees, and some like exotic. So the planning here though, which I think is great, is to have different trees for different places. But also picking the age, because you mentioned the size of the trees, and it's really important to get a tree established, and to get it to grow a long time. And to do that you don't want them too big. So there's a temptation to replace a really big old tree with a large tree. But it's great if we can get them in a bit smaller, get them going. There's, you know, thousands of new trees and lots of opportunities for some really creative planning.

Chris Robinson

Morrison online has just posted a question. Can we have pine trees please?

Professor Tim Entwisle

Well, see that's a great example. Because you'll get – the next question will be can we have eucalypts? And, it's this great sort of tension if you like, between different people's love of different trees. One of the things that came through too, was habitat for wildlife, for birds. So, pine trees are probably not perfect in that sense. But some pines are really attractive. So we are going to have a mix, and that's based on feedback and what. And what we can plant near an elevated rail too, so we have to be careful about the restraints, but also, you know, take the opportunity to plant interesting trees.

Chris Robinson

Terrific. One of the challenges with is project is, of course, the carpark element. Cheryl Boyne has previously posted this question. How many new carparks will be added? So, Tim G, from a project perspective, you're from Level Crossings Removal Authority, what's the view on that?

Tim Griffin

Yeah. I've been on the project for over 12 months now and I don't think I've had a discussion about the project that hasn't involved parking yet. It's a hotly debated topic and it's come up in COSEP several times, where we've debated between the tension between having more carparks, because we'd certainly hear from the community that more carparks are desired. But balancing that against the carparks taking up some of the open space and the parkland that we're trying to create, so we're certainly committed to providing more carparks, and we'll certainly endeavour to do that. And looking further for places for those to go at the moment, but sort of working with that tension I suppose to try and find the most appropriate spots for them.

Chris Robinson

Yeah. Terrific. And, I would remind everyone who's watching on Facebook, do let us know, get your questions in. The purpose is to provide you an opportunity to ask real–time questions, so please. And for those who have just joined us, we're with COSEP members regarding the Community Open Space Panel for the Caulfield to Dandenong Level Crossing Removal Project, and we're hearing from members of the panel.

Matthew, one the community members, welcome of course. Your thoughts on carparks and views as to community views, and what are you hearing with regard the balance between open space and carparks?

Matthew – Community Member

Yeah. It's an interesting dynamic. I think certainly no net loss would be something that's very important to the community members. And I think it's very important for it to be a very convenient space. So if that was the car parking opportunity sure, but it is important for those to be used so that they're not just sitting there like slabs of concrete that are just utilised over the weekend which is currently the situation. Particularly Noble Park where it's crying out for a big public space and there's a lot of carparks there. So it will be interesting to see, like, how those carpark spaces can be used as opportunities in the future, where they could also be no recreation zones or spaces not utilised over the weekends. A really great example to just, you know, market spaces in Ferntree Gully, could we do the same in our area? So essentially, look no net loss. If there are opportunities that would be really, really great, certainly traders would like that as well. But it would be a real shame for the entire area around the train station to be taken up by car spaces.

Chris Robinson

Thank you Matthew. Yes Tim.

Professor Tim Entwisle

I was just going to add to that, it was one of the great topics during the panel discussions about you've got to have a certain number of carparks. And people want carparks. But, you know, on the weekends there might not be as many commuters in there. How do we use those? How do we integrate, we were talking about trees and plants before, how do we sort of make that sort of stretch, or sort of look like it goes into the carpark. So I think they're the kind of creative solutions were things we talked about a lot in the panel.

Tim Griffin

That's right.

Sophie Patitsas

And we talked a lot about blending actually, because one of the great benefits of this project is actual the linear – the linear park, and linear spaces, and the active spaces. So we are talking about not necessarily doing one or the other actually. There is a balance and there's a tension, and it's just trying to then – the concept that came through in COSEP is the idea of blending.

Chris Robinson

One of the other things I remember speaking to you both earlier about, the areas the community open space or shared user path, which is a big element. And we've had some questions come through.

A few people have voiced their concern that the shared user path might be in fact dangerous. And why has the project decided to opt for shared use paths rather than separating pedestrian and cycle paths? And perhaps over to the panel, Tim, maybe what are your views on that and how has the project addressed those concerns?

Tim Griffin

Yeah. I guess we chose the shared path because we think it will be safe. So it will be a 3 metre wide path, so roughly the width of sort of your average road traffic lane I suppose. There are certainly areas where there's high pedestrian activity, we know that around the station precincts and the entries to the stations, people walking to and from their cars in the carpark. So there will be select areas where we recognise the need to have a separate footpath due to those sort of high conflict areas. But through the linear park we think the safe and good outcomes are to have a shared use path.

Chris Robinson

Tim, you also mentioned earlier about the special nature of trees. And there's been a lot of conversation about the River Red Gums. And I know Matthew; your many community members have said the same. A number of them have to be removed as part of the project to make way for the structures. Community has expressed a fondness for those trees, and what's – is the project able to replace the River Red Gums? Is it appropriate? And, what are your thoughts?

Professor Tim Entwisle

Personally I love River Red Gums. I can see why the community loves them; they're just one of those fantastic trees in that area. So we have to take, or trees have to be taken out to build the structures. When we put them back it's hard to actually put River Gums back. They do have problems. So, they do drop limbs. They're kind of a difficult tree in a public space, even though they're a beautiful tree. So in some places I imagine we'll be able to put some back in. Other places we can put alternatives. We can put native trees that attract the same wildlife. They have the same look. There are Manor Gums and other trees that look a bit similar, but a little bit better in public spaces. And also we can try for other kinds of vegetation. So, yeah, look like anyone else, you know, you miss an old tree. But this is an opportunity to plant in a new forest. A new urban forest if you like. And to really be sort of creative about what we want out of that forest. It might not be all River Red Gums because that is tough, but we can put some other trees as well.

Chris Robinson

In the time we have left ladies and gents, please remember, get your questions through. We're running out of time but Facebook Live is a great opportunity for you to pose the questions. One has come through – Sophie, and perhaps Tim G as well, we all love fruit. Is it possible to have edible gardens, community gardens along this area? I mean from your experience at the Government office.

Sophie Patitsas

Look, I think we've actually seen that happen in other areas actually, near railway stations actually. And I think it's possible, it's just really an issue of making that work, and if it's viable as well, and it's, you know, near that environment. I think I have to go to the experts here actually. Yeah.

Professor Tim Entwisle

Look, it is difficult. I think it's a great challenge to take up, to try and do some edible gardens, particularly if the community wants it. So in the panel we have, you know, Council representatives, we have community representatives. And in certain areas I think that might work. So if you've got a strong community group that's going to look after them and deal with them, plant them, all that kind of thing it might work. It's, you know, again, I think as a part of a mix why not.

Sophie Patitsas

Yeah. Why not? And if we can make it work, it's basically creating the conditions that will enable that to happen, and then actually for the community to have ownership of that. And obviously if they're interested, they want it, then that is a part of the ownership thing.

Professor Tim Entwisle

Yeah. But it's going to take, I would say Chris, it's one of those things that the community is going to have to want to do. It's going to be – planning and big trees and sort of gardens you can look after, for that sort of thing it's going to need that strong community ownership.

Matthew

I mean I tend to agree. I think it is a great idea, but we do really need to – any sort of those sort of contents really need to be spoken a little bit more with the community, so they can kind of get their head around how to manage this into the future. It's a really nice idea. Anything that brings the community together is a good idea.

Chris Robinson

Time is wrapping – getting away from us. But there's one interesting question, perhaps Tim G, car parking, can it go underground?

Tim Griffin

It certainly can. Anything – anything's possible. Obviously with the elevated structure there's still an element of infrastructure that's underground. There's the – you know, we've got piles and piles caps that are holding up our piers, so there's some limitations there. Look, we don't think it's the right outcome for our spaces that we're designing. We, you know as Sophie said, we're trying to design the carparks such that they blend into the linear parks as well. So we are still including quite a lot of trees within the carpark areas. So again, something underground might pose restrictions to that. So, yeah, it's a good idea, but not something we're pursuing at the moment.

Chris Robinson

Tim, any other reflections before we wrap up tonight about COSEP process, about the recommendations that you hope to make as the Chair?

Professor Tim Entwisle

I think this discussion is reflected quite nicely, sort of the things we discuss. And also that there are different points of view out there, so I think when we – the test will be what's produced, and I think the test of COSEP and how well we've worked together will be what you actually see, the parkland that's created, how these carparks look. But there are compromises, and I think that's what I've learnt through the process too. You know, it isn't a botanic garden, but it's going to be a wonderful new parkland and linear park for Melbourne. And, you know, what an opportunity to get it right.

Chris Robinson

And whilst it's not a park land, there are some very large structures occurring. Joe has asked the question, can we do some vegetation on the pylons? Can we – in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and Malaysia, there's lots of the greening of infrastructure, what are our thoughts on that Tim, and perhaps Tim G as well?

Tim Griffin

Yeah, I'll let Tim talk a little bit to it as well, but I guess one of the considerations from an engineering point of view was the integrity of the structures, and you know, they're serving a valuable purpose of holding up the train lines. So certainly wouldn't be able to compromise that. And there's some other things around maintenance, just being able to inspect the things. Potentially things that can be overcome, but there are some other challenges that have come up in COSEP that we've talked about, which I might let Tim talk to a little bit.

Professor Tim Entwisle

We're trying to find ways to do this. This is one of – again, one of these discussions we've had where it's about, you know, the engineers require certain things for the structures to inspect them. The plant people, and people like myself, would love to see more creepers and climbers. And they do them overseas in some countries. So I think what we'll get to is we'll find an opportunity to do some, maybe not on the pillars if – but we haven't talked about artwork yet, but I think there's some great opportunities on the pillars.

Chris Robinson

Perhaps we can come back another night and talk about that.

Professor Tim Entwisle

Yeah, maybe that, but look, it's really again, trying to find ways to do that and it might – you know, and there are challenges always in sort of debating these things with the engineers versus the strong plant people.

Chris Robinson

Of course.

Sophie Patitsas

And, the architects. Actually, well I was just going say actually, because the design team have been working so hard actually to make sure that the structures and the stations are really well designed and they do stand the test of time. So actually there are a few layers to this conversation. There's the linear park. There's the architectural outcome. And there's the landscape architecture as well. It's all supposed to, hopefully, come together to create something that Melbourne will be proud of.

Chris Robinson

I'm afraid time has got away from us tonight. Thank you all very much for joining us, and our panellists tonight, Sophie, Professor Tim, Matthew and Tim. From all but – from the team here at Level Crossings Authority, thank you very much for joining us. If you wish to keep the conversation live please get online and let us know your thoughts and views.

Thank you for tonight, and we look forward to speaking with you again soon.

[Level Crossing Removal Project – To get involved your.levelcrossings.vic.gov.au]