Council officer Chris White 0:00

I'd just like to first off acknowledge and welcome also Councillor Hollingsworth who's here tonight. She's part of an advisory group for this precinct as well. Starting off, what is the decision and transparency for decision making.

There's a number of stages and steps as to how the council will determine whether these projects proceed. We've been undertaking for quite a number of months feasibility studies. And that really is around the technicality issues of the sites, understanding what the site constraints are, what the opportunities are for understanding the type of soil profile that would affect geotechnical aspects of it, understanding if there's any risks associated with flooding and understanding engaging experts, external experts around traffic on the likely impacts and modeling of, if this project was to proceed, and what the impacts would be and also understanding, getting reports on tree health, et cetera is all part of the background studies that we've been undertaking, high level cost estimates and looking at likely project timeframes.

Council officer Chris White (01:20):

There's been quite a lot of work happening over a number of months, and that information will be shared with you this evening. From there we presented to Council late last year some of those technical and feasibility, and that really is around, is this project technically feasible? The next stage has been part of the background work too. There was market research undertaken, which we'll share with you later in the evening to really understand the broader sentiment in the community and broader demand for additional car parking in this precinct. The next stage, which is the stage that we are currently in, is around community engagement. And this is really targeting the local community. We do know and understand that probably the biggest impact for residents of those who are closest. And the current consultation really is around targeting the people who live, work and shop within these precincts.

Council officer Chris White (02:24):

The decision was made at the Council meeting late December that we would commence consultation from the 14th of December and a decision to extend it right through over two months, which is, a larger consultation period substantially than what we normally do on project related matters for two reasons. The first thing, this is quite a complex matter for the community and for the Council to consider. And also we acknowledge that many people take a number of weeks holiday during this process and therefore we wanted to have the time to enable people to consider and give feedback at some point over that two month period. At the completion of all this feasibility work and the consultation there will be all this information analyzed, put together and a Council report prepared, and that will be considered by the Councillors and Council at the 28th of March Council meeting.

Council officer Chris White (03:24):

And the decision from there will be around: should one or any of these projects proceed any further. So that's the roadmap to this point. That really makes it quite clear around the decision making process.

Where did this funding, and where did this project come from? So it's an offer from the Federal Government.

There's a program called the Urban Congestion Fund that the Federal Government is running and that's a $4 billion project that consists of many, many different types of initiatives to reduce urban congestion. As part of that program, $650 million is just towards commuter car parking that aims to provide additional parking associated near rail lines for the purpose of intermodal transport interchange. So people can drive and then catch public transport. In this case, it's the train. Initial funding is seed funding, that's been provided by the Federal Government and that's been used to undertake all this extensive feasibility work, engage consultants, project managers and consultation.

Council officer Chris White (04:37):

The cost of consultation is all being borne through this seed funding, to look at the viability of the project. Some of the conditions of the funding is that the land must be Council owned because that's the only land that we have control over, and that the car parking is free of charge. Council has used this seed funding, to look at all these impacts things like traffic, which we know will be a substantial concern for the community and also the amenity of the car park. We know that many people will be interested in: What will it look like? What's the impact? What's the benefit? Because at the end of the day, people want their streetscapes to still have high amenities. And that's really important as an outcome for us as Officers, as well. The current funding on the table for construction is $15 million as part of the Federal Government funding. And as we go through, if it is to proceed further at all stages of construction we'll be undertaking more and more detailed cost estimates and working with the Federal Government, to be mindful of the funding on the table, but also to ensure that this is a hundred percent funded from a construction perspective by the Federal Government.

Council officer Chris White (06:01):

There's a number of sites along our rail line. You can see that there's three sites in yellow, they are all Council owned car parks, where Council has been exploring the option of Federal funded commuter car parks and additional car parking looking at Glenferrie station, Camberwell and Canterbury, with Canterbury of course being on the Lilydale and the Belgrave line. The fourth site is a State owned site so the LXRP, which is part of the under-grounding program that's been happening across broader Melbourne. And there's been a lot of underground rail projects. This is also occurring at Surrey Hills and the State government is looking at funding opportunities to improve parking at the Surrey Hills. And that's sort of, I suppose, sitting outside and, and an exception because it's part of a broader rail underground program where parking is needed at those stations. The other three, all being the only Council owned sites.

Council officer Chris White (07:07):

This slide really is to show people how complex this issue is. This information's taken verbatim from feedback from the community as part of the Boroondara community plan that was undertaken recently to the right side of the slide. You can see feedback that talks about access to public transport, being able to park near the station, that it's hard to get a park sometimes, ensuring better integration of public transport, and having less restrictive parking conditions, improved parking for those who are using public transport is important since the zoning out of parking in the streets and around the train stations in the area makes it hard. And then on the flip side, you see people talking about having less cars and more walking, having bike lanes on every street, promoting active transport, restricting parking and managing traffic congestion. So we know that parking is a really complex issue and it's not a straightforward view, there's many views within the community, and this makes it really challenging for Council Officers and Councillors in making wise decisions and considering all aspects, because the views are quite broad ranging. And that's part of the engagement, is understanding whether there is that support for additional car parking and what the issues and concerns are, because if this was to proceed, it's really important that the full gamut of concerns are understood to either eliminate or reduce or mitigate those issues and concerns.

Council officer Chris White (08:54):

Where does this sit as far as broader Council policies go?

The placemaking initiative under the Maling Road Place Plan is quite an important document that helps guide some of the key urban planning issues that are potential revitalization of this precinct. Some people may recall that through 2019 and 2020, there were over 17,000 community people who contributed to two rounds of consultation regarding place-making in this area. The Place Plan was then formally adopted in 2020. And it's important when we look at the place vision for Maling Road around the guiding principle and the vision for this area.

Council officer Chris White (09:44):

Maling Road will offer a unique village feel with its heritage, character and diversity of shops complemented by playful, vibrant and safe spaces, attracting people of all ages and backgrounds morning to night. So that's the guiding vision for what the community saw for Maling Road.

An extract from there that focuses on additional car parking, that council will collaborate with other levels of government to explore options for providing additional car parking facilities in close proximity to the Maling Road precinct. It's important to understand that when this document was developed the Federal funding offer to provide funding wasn't actually on the table, but certainly provides the funding initiative to realise this as an outcome of this document, you can see there to the right hand side, there's two sort of pinkish strips. One being the State Government owned site adjacent to the station that sits within the border of Canterbury park and the other being Wattle Valley car park which is a site that we've been exploring.

Council officer Chris White (10:57):

The key initiatives as we touched on is working with the Government to enhance station access and amenity. And council's been working with the DoT on improving that interface in the laneways there, so that the entrance to the station is going to be improved to look at laneway upgrades, and hopefully people have noticed the works that have been undertaking with those bluestones being cut having much smoother laneways, safer, and the proposal to continue that around towards the rear of the shops that front the carpark, the station access point, and to also draw some of the vegetation that's currently in Canterbury Gardens and improve at the amenity and landscape around the pylons at the base and near the station precinct so that the amenity is improved. There are works that are currently being designed and will be rolled out over the coming months and also investigate options to increase car parking. So it's really just showing that there's other key policy documents that draws on this as an outcome of the guiding vision and the Maling Road Place Plan.

Council officer Chris White (12:13):

For broader issues with the Place Plan, Maling Road obviously they're shining star in this precinct and there's opportunities that have been identified in this Place Plan. And should they proceed, that would be subject to more detailed consultation on those particular proposals. So for example the Place Plan does identify one way traffic movement through Maling Road and there opportunities that become available to us, if additional car parking is realised because it enables relocation of some of those car parks, not all of them, but some of those car parks into this, additional car parking. So it's more consolidated and consultation on that would occur as a separate piece, but definitely there is some interrelationship because it does rely on the ability to house relocation of some of those parks, if that was to occur.

Council officer Nadia Combe (13:13):

My name's Nadia Combe. I'm one of the Council Officers that's been working on the preparation of this information for you tonight. I'm just gonna talk you through the different stages of feasibility and the kinds of work that we were doing to get to the point where we are now.

In July 2021 we letterbox dropped about 500 meter radius around the proposed sites in Canterbury that were exploring.

This letter was really to commence giving people the indication of some of the sites that we were going to start doing our testing and our feasibility studies on. Some of the spaces that we considered, we wanted to consider sites that could potentially host underground car parking, as well as any existing car parks. We certainly weren't considering any existing open space or any existing buildings as part of our feasibility. So the four sites that we initially had started to consider were the Railway parade which is owned by the State Government, Wattle Valley road, Bryson street, and then a combination of Bryson and Wattle Valley road car parks together.

Council officer Nadia Combe (14:36):

So one of the initial key considerations that we were thinking about when we started our investigation was really understanding who owned the site. Chris mentioned earlier that part of the scope of this project was really to focus on sites that were owned by the Council. So that immediately eliminated the site next to the train station, which as mentioned before, is owned by the State Government. We also needed to understand the footprint of the site, could the site accommodate the kind of car parking that we were thinking about. We also needed to understand the location of any potential underground services or easements or anything that might constrain in the project, and then also understanding any cost, early costings, making sure that the site and the project could be delivered within the allocated budget.

Council officer Nadia Combe (15:23):

Here's a map just showing those initial sites that we explored and again, delineating between the Bryson street car park and the Wattle Valley road car park there.

So some of the initial findings from the feasibility study.

As mentioned before, because Railway parade is owned by the State Government we have not pursued that particular site and we continued on the sites that were owned by Council.

From there we then undertook some more detailed feasibility studies.

So this is really getting into the nitty gritty of the actual tasks that we needed to undertake to understand the site. So this was about undertaking land and feature surveys, undertaking arboricultural reports on the tree health, understanding if the soil was contaminated or not, understanding if there was rock on the site and all that kind of technical information that we require when we start to scope up a project.

Council officer Nadia Combe (16:29):

Further to that, obviously we're developing a car park. So a very big key part of our feasibility was engaging with an external traffic consultant to help us really understand what the conceptual layout of the car park might look like and understanding the broad traffic impacts to the local road network and intersections and that'll be discussed further in one of the breakout groups. Similarly, another key piece of the feasibility studies was, we undertook a preliminary community survey just to kind of understand the sentiment towards the provision of additional car parks in our centers and in Canterbury, of course. Then as mentioned before general cost estimations on what we expected the project to cost, and whether it could be accommodated within the allocated funds.

Council officer Nadia Combe (17:19):

From that we explored, as mentioned, just Bryson street alone, Wattle Valley road alone and then the combination of the two, what we found with Bryson street being stand alone was the footprint was much too small to really accommodate the kind of parking yields we thought would be useful for this project. Furthermore, when we did a combination of Wattle Valley and Bryson together, the cost of implementing a car park or a basement car park, across these two sites, exceeded the allocated budget. As we've moved forward, we're focused on the site of the Wattle Valley road, car park as it is, standing alone.