In strategic terms, Footscray is one of Melbourne’s key urban activity centres and is therefore a focus for initiatives enhancing public transport and pedestrian activity, supporting higher density living and encouraging local employment opportunities. Leeds Street is a significant element in central Footscray’s operation, providing linkages to and from the railway station and the commercial area and accommodating bus stops and the terminus of the 82 tram route.
Spiire was engaged to provide an integrated range of services to redesign the street that included:
- Community engagement: the formulation of an overall engagement plan suited to the multi-cultural community, regular community meetings, on site listening posts and bulletins
- Urban design and landscape architecture concepts: designs and documents aimed at better lighting, increased pedestrian capacity and connectivity, improved environmental performance through the introduction of tree planting and WSUD and appropriate commercial use of footpaths
- Hydraulic and civil engineering: design and documentation including integration with WSUD and provision of adequate drainage capacity
- Traffic engineering: to secure a partial permanent road closure to allow tram platform installation, a signals redesign at a key intersection, remodelled street parking layout, signs and marking designs
- Structural engineering: for lighting fixtures and seating constructed to match the tram platform
- Management and integration of specialist sub-consultant lighting designers, electrical engineers, quantity surveyors, mobility auditors, arborists, computer visualisers and translators.
A key challenge was the initially very tight time frame in which to complete a design based on consultation with a very broad community. As well as the busy trader community (the site adjoins two of Footscray’s markets) there was a variety of transport related stakeholders including bus and taxi operator representatives, Yarra Trams and its consultants, VicRoads and the state Department of Transport. Broad council and state government design and management stakeholder groups also required participation in consultation and decision making: these groups included City of Maribyrnong design, engineering and community services staff, Council itself, the Victorian state Planning department and Melbourne Water. Local service providers Jemina (power), Telstra and City West Water all needed to be consulted with on site specific service upgrade and amendment issues.
Spiire worked collaboratively with Council, funding and statutory agencies, in addition to the local community to progressively develop ideas into concepts, designs and construction documents for the achievement of works on the ground consistent with available budgets. Flood modelling ensured works achieved visual improvement that also embraced WSUD, acknowledging that some parts of Leeds Street were historically susceptible to flooding. The works provided for increased pedestrian activity and amenity as well as appropriate connectivity with public transport facilities. The project complemented the adjacent upgrade of Footscray railway station and forecourt and is a significant element in the changes to Footscray that allow it to better cater for urban high density living.