Remember the consultation sessions we attended in 2012 about exciting and extensive plans to enhance the parklands along Johnstons Creek and Rozelle Bay? The first session was in June, with a follow-up in December. Then the Master Plan was exhibited in May 2013 with drop-in sessions in the parklands, and further refinements made for the final endorsed plan.
So, what has happened to those plans? Councillor Linda Scott has asked two questions on notice in Council in the past year about the projects in the Johnstons Creek Master Plan. Last year her question was: ‘What is the projected time-frame for the completion of public works as part of the Johnstons Creek Parklands Master Plan?’ The answer by the Lord Mayor was: ‘The upgrade of open space as outlined in the Johnstons Creek master plan will be delivered through three projects. The first project will be the development of Harold Park providing 3.8 hectares of new open space with construction commencing later this year. Secondly, a new project, The Crescent Lands at Johnstons Creek, will be delivered by mid-2018. The final project contributing to the parklands will be the upgrade of the Federal Park playground, scheduled for delivery by mid-2018.’
In a further question in late February this year, Councillor Scott asked: ‘How many future capital works projects are contained within the Johnstons Creek Parklands Masterplan?’ In reply, the Mayor referred again to her answer from the previous year.
Those three projects are good as far as they go, but they leave some very big gaps when compared to the Master Plan, including:
- the Hill (currently inaccessible).
- the canal naturalisation.
- the large freshwater wetland – ‘a highly visible expression of the parklands’ signature character’.
- various upgrades to existing parks, including a fountain, a kayak and canoe launching pontoon and a new bridge close to the Bay.
The biggest gap is clearly the plan for The Hill. The Master Plan includes the following descriptions:
As it is cost prohibitive to entirely remove The Hill, the best option is to take advantage of the prospect it provides being two metres above the adjacent railway viaduct. A new equitable access route from Maxwell Rd to a cantilevered viewing deck at the summit of the hill maximises views over the parklands, the bay and surrounding areas.
The Hill is also to be reshaped and graded to stabilise the slopes. To improve visual and physical connections through the parklands, the western bank is to be cut back to open up views and connections through the viaduct from Jubliee Oval to the Tram Shed and open space in Harold Park.
To provide the necessary protective capping to the Hill, the existing vegetation will need to be removed, providing the opportunity to replace it with new plantings of indigenous shrubs and canopy eucalypts. The adjacent existing mature fig trees can be retained.
A lovely vision for this critical area, which we need to ensure becomes reality … sometime before we die.
Bulletin Editor’s note: Johnstons Creek Parklands has been a concern of the Society for decades.