It’s all about Metro Tunnel

By Laurence Dragomir, Urban Melbourne

The biggest planning news to occur during an otherwise quiet month in Melbourne was the announcement that the Cross Yarra Partnership was the successful bidder for the Tunnel and Stations availability-based, private-public partnership (PPP) contract.

The city-changing project will create 5000 jobs during the construction of five new underground stations and twin 9km tunnels. The station designs by Hassell and Weston Williamson architects will include wider platforms, more natural light and significant improvements to the public realm around the station entries and shafts.

Additional entrances will also be built to reduce crowding on major streets in the CBD. These will include two entrances at City Square and at Swanston St, Flinders St, Federation Square, Franklin St and LaTrobe St.

Underground passages at Flinders St and Melbourne Central stations will allow passengers to interchange between the Metro Tunnel stations and the City Loop as well as Melbourne’s tram network.

Work is set to get underway in earnest next year with the stations set to open in 2026.

Elsewhere in the city, local developer Perri Projects is planning a residential tower on the site of a service station at 23-29 Victoria St.

Conceived by Woods Bagot, the 25-storey tower would rise opposite dual 38-storey buildings currently under construction. Overall, the development will deliver 90 apartments, two retail tenancies, office accommodation, car and bicycle parking as well as urban realm improvements.

Landscaping plays a key role across the tower’s lower levels, with four separate design aspects proposed to enhance the pedestrian network. MacKenzie St’s pavement would be widened to provide space for planter boxes while the MacKenzie and Victoria streets intersection is envisioned as a pocket urban forest.

A new string of trees to Victoria St and an upgrade to better connect Bell Place are also mooted as part of the development team’s plans for the site.

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