Council Officer Chris White (00:00):
Welcome, my name is Chris White and I'm the manager of Capital Projects.
I'm really pleased to be here, to provide as much information as possible. A bit of history and context, as far as where the funding came from, the funding did come from the Federal Government and initially we've had seed funding to undertake feasibility works, and that really is to understand both the technical side of, is it actually viable to construct a car park in locations within Camberwell and to understand items such as either contamination, geotechnical, what sort of likely numbers are we to yield? We also use this funding to get background information, so we engaged market researchers to really dig down into some broader surveys across the community to give us representative data that we go into a little, a bit further on in the presentation.
Council Officer Chris White (01:04):
This was really important funding in order for us to get a greater understanding of what the opportunities and the constraints existed for this funding. This funding is actually part of the government's $4 billion roll-out for congestion funding of which $650 million sits within commuter car parks. The city of Boroondara has been offered a number of sites to investigate the feasibility at three locations, Camberwell being, one the other two being Glenferrie and Canterbury. So it's a fairly large investment by the Federal Government and their real aim is to reduce congestion. They want to encourage people to either use transport who currently aren't using transport or potentially even increase the number of times that they use and access public transport. It's also around traveling less distance in their car from their point of origin to their place of work or their study.
Council Officer Chris White (02:18):
So it really is to reduce the length of time that cars are on the road and through that reducing congestion. Some key conditions of this funding is that the Federal Government was very keen for Council to explore sites that were Council owned and operated. Mainly because at the end of the day that is where we have control of the land, its land that we own, also the car park must be provided free of charge and that is something that we're very committed to, although we have stated to the Federal Government that may need periodic review, but at this stage, very committed to the free of charge parking. How have we used this seed funding? As I said, we've explored a number of sites within Camberwell and we informed the residents within 500 metres late last year of the sites that we were investigating, that being Harold Street predominantly and the Junction West, which is the existing multiuse west car park. We also investigated Station Street car park as part of the options, that was quickly taken off our agenda mainly around the very, very high cost to undertake realisations for that particular site.
Council Officer Chris White (03:43):
We use the funding to really try to dig down a bit deeper into what the impacts on the local community might be. We anticipate that concern around an increase in car parking and congestion on local roads might be one of the issues. What the car parking might look like, how, how does it add to the urban realm? That was really important to us because if this was to proceed, it is really important in these areas that have some fantastic heritage buildings, et cetera, that we actually add to the amenity of the area and don't detract from it and that we add value to our to the broader community, not just to commuters was something that we really wanted to explore further if we proceed and Council supports this. Currently on the table is funding from the Federal Government of $20 million for Camberwell.
Council Officer Chris White (04:40):
This will be all subject to further explorations when we do our final costings, et cetera.
The sites, as I discussed, there's a total of three sites that Council is exploring on Council owned sites. There is a fourth site being Surrey Hills that site is currently being explored by the State Government, but also will be receiving Federal Government funding in order to support commuter car parking, at Camberwell it's a junction, a fairly significant junction station being the interchange for Lilydale, Belgrave and Alamein lines. So it is probably a fairly popular station given that it has a number of access paths.
As mentioned It's really important to us that there are community benefits to any potential change in car parking in Camberwell, so whilst the aim of the Federal Government funding, which we need to be mindful of, is to create more long term car parks for the purpose of a park and ride as an interchange mode to enable people to access, train and tram by being able to get there via car initially, and then to access other forms of transport.
Council Officer Chris White (06:11):
What's important to us and one of the key reasons that we landed on a preferred site being the existing junction west car park is it's an existing multi deck structure. It's fairly utilitarian in its appearance. It's got ordinary sort of galvanized framing around the external periphery. It's pretty much concrete, grey. Internally, particularly as a female, I know when you walk in it there's parts that are quite dark, a bit grungy, not particularly welcoming or a desirable place to visit. So we see this as an opportunity to upgrade an existing structure that isn't, I suppose, what you'd call state of the art sort of car park design to improve things like safety with better lighting, very clear, high visibility, improving access: there currently is no lifts. So for anyone with mobility issues, it really is poor navigation to get to other levels of car parking that you need to.
Council Officer Chris White (07:15):
So there's the ability to retrofit this structure with lifts, which is quite significant work to do that retrofitting, but there's an opportunity to do that through this Federal Government funding. Amenity and overall appearance, particularly from the external as well as the internal is quite important. It's, as I said, it's not a partially amazing structure. It's very much utilitarian in its style. I don't know if anyone's visited the Cato car park that was undertaken a few years ago, but modern car parks typically now have fantastic painting to help navigate people to see clearly which floor you are on. You can have sensor parking, those sorts of things to help, you know, where there's available parking. There are lots of sorts of smart technology that can be introduced into car parks that makes it a lot more desirable as a place to go.
Council Officer Chris White (08:15):
So that's something that we would really like to explore as if this was to proceed across the car park. So whilst this is about adding an additional level to create additional long term parking, part of the package that we've presented to the Federal Government is it has to be more than just the additional parking. It has to offer something back to the community. So therefore the funding will be stretched to enable that whole car park to have a face-lift, so to speak. And the cladding from the outside, there's also an opportunity to look at how we can prevent, I suppose, car lights shining into adjacent properties. There are some adjacent properties on some boundaries. How the amenity from the external can look a lot better, there's cladding, there's greening, there's quite a few different methodologies to improve the visual amenity there.
Council Officer Chris White (09:13):
Making it feel safer; that's a lot about lighting. We can also explore CCTV, but very much working in conjunction with Vic Pol to get some advice on whether that's required, but there are options available to us as well for safety and importantly, how you navigate the car park. Because one of the things that we know is once you exit the car park, you kind of just get dumped into the sea of car parking around Harold street. There are some pedestrian links, but if you wanna go to the station, most people would walk in that lane way next to Gazman to get to Bourke street and then up to the station, and you have to walk and navigate the Harold street car park, which is not the you know, the funnest thing to do. There is no clear definition of where a pedestrian should go.
Council Officer Chris White (10:00):
So this proposal would enable relocation of some of those car parks in Harold street, putting them into this center to create a clear and safe pedestrian link. So people can navigate that space without feeling, you know, that their safety is in jeopardy. This isn't a new issue. We know that the Harold street car park can be challenging at the best of times and Council has invested a lot in the past few years in improving those pedestrian links. But we see that there's more that we can do to support that. Some of the other benefits is that there's a combination of more short and long term car parks. The long term car parks are very much there around supporting commuter car parking, particularly that Monday to Friday timeframe at that peak from 6:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Where we see the long term car parking coming to, to plan the short term car parking is important because we don't want to lose any of the existing numbers of short-term car parks, because we know at peak times on weekends and that parking is in demand within precinct shopping centers.
Council Officer Chris White (11:16):
So it's important that if we need to relocate, that those remain as short term car parks to support trade and, and local economy and vibrancy. We also know, and I suppose local residents particularly would know, any shopping center Car parks are always in high demand and people will park on local streets if they're unable to get closer to shopping centers. So we see this as an opportunity to particularly on weekends increase the number of available car parks for other users that really benefit the community around shopping and dining, going to the cinema, et cetera. These car parks can come into play.
Council Officer Chris White (12:06):
I'm happy to share the stages of the process for decision making.
There's a number of stages in the project and decision points that we call milestones. So initially we started off with feasibility studies, as I touched on, very much that was around the technical data you know, undertaking surveys, engaging traffic consultants doing bore samples to understand what the soil consists of geotechnical or engaging a structural engineer to understand the current structure and confirming that the existing structure was built and can support an additional level. So structurally it was built for that. So we've had those technical aspects explored and confirmed, looking at what the design is, which comes into play. Nadia will pick that up and, and talk us through what the potential yield and what the design could look like. We've also engaged artists because really exploring, well, what could we get out of this?
Council Officer Chris White (13:16):
What would this potentially look like? It's important for people to have that visual image of what it could be and undertaking early cost estimates that will continuously need to be refined as the project advances. In December we collated those findings and we briefed Council on those technical findings. We're now in the community engagement phase which is a really important phase because we know that the people most impacted are the people who live closest. We really need to understand concerns and part of today is to have questions asked and, and to respond to those, to the best of our ability to give you information so you can tell Council what you actually think about this potential project.
Council Officer Chris White (14:10):
The survey is open currently, and it goes through to 12 on the 10th of February, 12 noon, I think on the 10th of February, 2022 the session from the 14th of December right through to February is an extended consultation period because we're acknowledging that it is over the festive season and most people will go away for two or three weeks. So we needed it to be an extended length to enable people to have time to consider and to complete the survey. Following the close there really is quite a lot of collation of those findings, revision of cost estimates that we'll undertake prior to a Council report on the 28th of March and that's a really key decision point, a major milestone around Councillors really analysing, considering the entire package of information, the feasibility, the background reports, and and the feedback from the community around, what do they think about this additional car parking?
Council Officer Chris White (15:19):
What are their concerns? Because it really is important that those concerns can be addressed, designed out and mitigated if this was to proceed.
Stage 1 in the feasibility studies we only, as I mentioned before, looked at existing Council owned spaces, we didn't look at any other existing spaces such as open spaces because we know that they are really important to the community. The three sites that were looked at were Station Street, Harold Street, and Junction West and as I stated, site ownership, that was a yes / no type scenario. Looking at the spatial constraints of the site, looking at the footprint and the yield, working with traffic consults to do preliminary design. So we really understood what could be achieved, understanding underground services or other overlays such as flood overlays was a really important process in determining the viability from a technical perspective whether things could be achieved or would have a significant impact on budget where all considerations looking at easements, those sorts of things that might constrain how the site would be developed and looking at early costings with surveyors to see where does this sit within the current potential funding that the Federal Government has on the table.
The locations and the distribution of these sites you can see the blue behind Harold street car park.
Council Officer Chris White (17:06):
You'd be familiar with red being at the site of the Junction West car park and the Station Street car park being the one that supports sites such as the Camberwell fresh food market.
Council Officer Chris White (17:24):
What we found was Station Street, car park, whilst it had viability, obviously you can get a lot of car parking there. It came out, one of the things we know with that site, it is what I call a bit of the jewel in the crown. It's a large site. There's a lot of businesses that front onto that car park. It also houses the tram electrical substation, which is quite a large building, and there is initial work being undertaken around the urban design framework for that area. Something like that that's quite significant, really does need that fairly lengthy investigation into the strategic direction on what that should become. And so, I suppose just putting in a car park there without knowing how that really fits into an urban design framework, we would be hesitant to enter that space and we therefore just thought, well, let's run the process from a, how many car parks could you get in there?
Council Officer Chris White (18:28):
You exclude almost a third of the car park, given that there's significant infrastructure that would really constrain development. Knowing that the community in this space would pretty much be requesting that to be an underground car park, we did the costings on that basis, and the cost of it came out significantly higher in the multi, multi, millions and therefore we quickly took that off the table. We therefore really focused on the two smaller sites being Harold Street car park and Junction West car park, and both of these have the ability from us and technically they could be done, they could be relatively within the budget parameters. And so they had that going for them.
The Harold Street car park, the problems we found there was through the risk mapping. Well, these are sort of detailed feasibility that we found on it.
Council Officer Chris White (19:30):
The risk mapping, we looked at the scoping and timelines, the geotechnical, et cetera on all those sites. With the Harold Street car park, we undertook this feasibility, but we found a number of site constraints, including items such as access to the loading dock. So we have fairly heavy vehicles and truck movements going through there that constrain the side and increase, I suppose, risk to pedestrian movements and the urban interface to the street frontage of Harold street with a mold deck in that location really had some significant shortfalls. And, therefore the Junction West car park, given that it's an existing multi deck has been built for an additional level and has the ability to improve the existing structure, came out through the feasibility findings as a preferred site.
How we informed the community, going back to July last year, we letterbox dropped residents.
Council Officer Chris White (20:44):
So there's about three and a half thousand letters sent out to advise people of that feasibility works so that people were aware of it.
Touching really again, on some of the community considerations. The height of the car park was something that we really needed to explore knowing that it had to respond to the urban fabric and be sensitive to surrounding heights. And this site is quite interesting because it's a combination of some incredibly tall buildings including the old, the Well and you can see in the background there just the height of surrounding buildings, but we also know that there's single and double storey type buildings also in the location. So it has a fairly diverse realm of public interface, and we knew that we had to respond in a sensitive way to how that was integrated. Whatever we do, the contribution to the amenity of the surrounding area and the neighborhood character is important to us.
Council Officer Chris White (21:52):
So use of excellent design, being sensitive to materials, and consideration of more sustainable materials where possible trying to engage with local suppliers would be important to us if the project should proceed. Importantly those pedestrian connections across to the train station are really critical and looking at opportunities to improve green on the building or surrounding the building. We know that research talks about greening is really important to people's health and wellbeing. So maximizing that as much as possible to the surrounds of any development would be important and to look at canopy cover and opportunities also to harvest water where possible, or to access solar. We want these systems as closed loop as possible, meaning that whatever energy needs to be used to run lights, et cetera, during the day to make the building safe, we really wanna generate that from the site itself.
Council Officer Chris White (23:02):
So that, we're being as light touch as possible in how we go about it. We also acknowledge that as an intermodal location, it's not always cars, some people will ride their bikes and they don't want their bikes just out in the weather. So having some sort of bike storage as well as hoops is important for us to consider as part of the more technical side of it all, if this was to proceed. Consideration of greening the car park. Really importantly, for us looking at an existing structure in this location with better lighting, better access through new lifts and better facade treatment to what is there are all really sort of fairly significant benefits that could be realised potentially Council was to proceed with this.
Council Officer Chris White (23:57):
We know that car parking is always a hot topic in local government. It's not new to Camberwell, it's probably all across Australia in all more urban and built environments. Council undertakes consultation on a regular basis, including our Boroondara Community Plan, where people often give their voice and opinions. And this is just a snapshot from some of the views that we've heard through the planning phase. And as you can see on the right hand side it shows talking about access to public transport. Parking's really hard to get, can you improve traffic management and increase parking limits? It's hard to get a park and visit my local businesses. Can you improve parking for those using public transport? Since the zoning of parking in the streets around the train stations in the area, and we know that tension does exist there because as people use street parking residents request from Council, can you put parking permits in place for residents?
Council Officer Chris White (25:03):
Therefore that pressure sort of moves people out and out to find parking. In other locations, on the flip side, we also know that people talk about, you know, promoting active transport, restricting parking, have less cars, ride bikes more. It's really important for us to acknowledge this isn't a simple issue. This is actually a really complex issue because there is always a diverse range of views and a diverse range of needs. And you know, it's likely some of this opposing type information is likely to come out through this consultation based on history where we know that these issues are not simple, they are quite complex. So it's a challenge for Councillors and Council Officers to navigate this, and having this consultation, understanding the feasibility, and looking at what we can get out of this process is where we hope to land and present this information to Council for consideration.