Open space is important to people, and town planing can be considered to begin with our open spaces:
Lack of Open Space
Research by RMIT shows how the amount of open space per person varies significantly across Yarra. Collingwood, Fitzroy and Cremorne are highlighted as having the least open space per person.
Yarra’s Open Space Strategy
Council’s 2006 Open Space Strategy defines open space as:
publicly owned land that is set aside and managed exclusively for leisure, recreation and nature conservationYarra Open Space Strategy 2006
But chooses to exclude local streets:
Local streets are set aside for transportation purposes and are therefore not public open space reserves, unless parts of them have been formally closed and rezoned as public open space.Yarra Open Space Strategy 2006
This is a failure of management, considering that Council doesn’t have an overarching Public Space Strategy, which would include the above definition of open space, as well as streets, pocket parks, plazas and public facilities such as libraries. This is especially disappointing because in some areas of Yarra our local streets are the only practical way to increase open space, as the strategy itself states:
In some areas roads provide the only opportunity to create open space and if this occurs they would be become part of the formal open space network.Yarra Open Space Strategy 2006
Failure to close gaps
The 2006 strategy correctly identifies that some areas in Yarra are severely lacking in open space. Sadly, over the 13-year course of the strategy, 2006-2019, Council has failed to close these gaps.
The 2019 draft strategy includes an almost identical gap analysis, and proposed multiple new areas of open space, yet offers no plausible way for Council to be able to afford the high costs for land acquisition.
Image credits: City of Yarra.
Failure to rank LAPM precincts
A failure of both the 2006 strategy and the 2019 draft strategy is the lack of a clear priority for funding. Council manages expenditure via the Local Area Place Making (LAPM) process. The Open Space strategy should integrate with this process, clearly ranking all 21 LAPM areas in terms of priority for funding. In addition, all 21 LAPM areas should be reviewed in each 4-year term of Council (i.e. twice during the 2019-2031 strategy).
Streetscapes as links
The strategy correctly identifies that streets act as important links to open space. Sadly, over the 13-year course of the strategy, 2006-2019, Council has not invested enough to upgrade the identified streets to streetscapes that support safe walking and cycling.
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