Issue 10, Semester 1
By Erin Kanygin
As everyone has noticed, life outside and around 185 Pelham Street has been busy, as of late.
“What exactly is going on?” you may have asked yourself. “Is this just a bunch of random construction linked to the new train station?”
Well actually, Melbourne Law School is currently experiencing a double whammy of projects. There is the train line and station being implemented, but on top of that there is the “University Square Master Plan”, which is the culmination of several years of community consultation run by the City of Melbourne.
There are two “Actions” within the Master Plan (just to keep things simple).
“Master Plan Action 3” is occurring on Leicester Street. It involves expanding University Square and constructing “a 5m wide north-bound traffic lane with a dedicated bicycle path and a new pedestrian thoroughfare.” Additionally, lighting will be increased, and new park furniture and garden beds will be accoutered. Sadly, half of the wisteria has already been removed, which is devastating for people like me who never managed to get that perfect Instagram snap.
“Master Plan Action 7” affects us even more directly. This project will be a total reconstruction of Pelham Street park into a space that better responds to our world’s changing climate and the local community’s needs. Within a few years, the front of the law school will be transformed into a beautifully restored natural landscape and inclusive community space. Plans for the park include the relocation of the Temperance Fountain to the front of the park as a special feature, the construction of new retaining and seat walls, raised garden beds, infrastructure to redirect and reuse stormwater, and the overall expansion of the park.
The reconstruction may include a slight level of trauma since the removal of English Elms will start later month. The elms will be slowly replaced with 100 new trees, consisting mainly of native flora. We have been informed that the rationale behind this is that the Elms, which were planted in the 1930s, are now struggling due to factors such as climate change.
By planting a vast number of new trees, there will be an increased tree canopy which will help to reduce the urban heat island effect and provide much-needed shade. Large sections of the removed elm tree trunks will be used for timber seating within the park. The City of Melbourne wishes to build for tomorrow, and the English Elms will not stand the test of time as temperatures continue to rise.
If you are concerned about the little critters who call the park home, worry not. The City has assured us that “extensive work has been undertaken to ensure possums and birds are relocated before tree removals. An ecologist and experienced fauna handler will be on-site to conduct tree inspections, and will also be on-site during the tree removals.”.
Within a few years, Melbourne Law School’s front yard will be a biodiversity corridor, so although the construction may be annoying now, with time, it will be home to a gorgeous 21st century park.
If you have any more questions, contact the city of Melbourne at: 9658 9658 or email firstname.lastname@example.org;
Or contact Melbourne University’s very own Sustainable Campus office at: email@example.com
Written by: Erin Kanygin
MULSS Environment Director
Fact checked and approved by Sustainable Campus