Below is the consultant report for DELWP from the consultation held on the 15th October. This report was forwarded on 21st November – the day before the Yarra City Council Meeting. According to the consultant, 70% of the attendees were firmly opposed to both Options A and B. The consultant then recommends the adoption of Option B.
Of particular note is the letter from Bicycle Network to Urbis, which is in direct contrast to their earlier position that: “the riders from the Main Yarra Trail, Walmer Bridge and the switchback ramp are all funnelled into a small area – this creates a worrying conflict zone given the volume of riders as well as pedestrians and the disabled passing through the area”; and “The switchback ramp as a connection from the bridge level (Lower Plaza) to Walmer Plaza significantly reduces the level of service for riders as they will now have to navigate through a tight angled ramp. The switchback angles through this section will make it difficult for bike riders to pass each other coming in opposite directions and the Landscape plan even refers to it as a ‘pedestrian ramp’. There is currently a switchback ramp in place connecting the Main Yarra Trail to Walmer Street, however this was built a number of years ago to a now outdated standard and is unacceptable in 2016.”
Other bicycle user groups, pedestrians and disabled people who actually use the Main Yarra Trail would certainly dispute that the longer legs on the descent section of the shared bike/pedestrian paths are unlikely to be bothersome to path users.
We would also like to point out that the statement made in the late report by Council Officers, after considering these options, that: “Both schemes propose 3.1m wide paths. In areas along the embankment and within the Plaza, this is not a concern as space can be borrowed from the land abutting the path” is misleading, as all the paths will need safety railings on the downward side of the path due to the steepness of the embankment, and the land on the upward side will slope up. Where precisely are people supposed to “borrow space” from? We are talking about 22m of sloping riverbank, which is apparently going to contain about 15m of switchback paths and 5m landscaping. Part of the proposed path runs under the building and so close to a cafe that cyclists can reasonably expect to crash into chairs and tables, as well as pedestrians.
It would really be a great relief to all people, both cyclists and pedestrians, who actually use the Main Yarra Trail, and Walmer Street, if people who seem never to have been to the area, and have not considered any proper 3D cross sections of the area, would stop making incorrect and misleading statements.
Absolutely no mention is made of the increased wind effects from the two nine/ten level buildings on either side of Walmer Street. The consultants report for wind effects created by 647-649 stated that they would be uncomfortable for walking. What will happen when the Park House is added to the mix? The two huge buildings on either side, creating a concrete canyon/wind tunnel, are certainly going to negatively affect pedestrians, cyclists and the river environment.