We know from engagement on previous local projects that our community feels that the heart of Coburg is not as pedestrian-friendly as it could be, is too car-dominated, and lacking in vibrancy and greenery.
We also know that elements of Coburg's unique local character are deeply loved, such as its affordable cultural food offering, the colour that the Schoolhouse Studios artists have brought to the area, the landscaping and cycle facilities of the new Station Precinct, the cluster of Middle Eastern shops, and the coffee culture of Victoria Mall.
The Coburg Conversation is an invitation to the community to go deeper in telling us what they cherish about the Coburg of today, and what they hope for the Coburg of tomorrow.
The project so far is divided into 3 phases:
We have already made a plan for the first of the Council-owned spaces, to create a health and community services precinct, following extensive community engagement in 2021, and securing a partner who can deliver this project. The health precinct will be located on Bell Street next to the Coburg Civic Centre.
The heart of Coburg revitalisation - includes Coburg Library, Waterfield Street car park, Russell Street car park and two supermarkets (one of which is currently being used by Schoolhouse Studios).
We will consider what should happen in this carpark as part of future consultations.
Our Community Vision
We want to make sure that whatever we do brings to life the Merri-bek Community Vision of an environmentally proactive, safe, healthy, caring, thriving and vibrant place. What should this look like in a revitalised heart of Coburg?
In 2021 we heard from our community that the Merri-bek you aspire to live in by 2031 is one that is:
Revitalisation projects of this type are very complex, and will likely involve developing new partnerships, delivery models and funding sources.
There are also some core challenges that we need to consider when thinking about a future Coburg. Council must make sure our drainage can cope with future flooding events. We also need to find the right balance of carparking for the revitalised areas.
Council currently own two supermarkets in the heart of Coburg. These include the Sydney Road Coles supermarket purchased in 2009, and the Victoria Street Coles purchased in 2006, currently occupied by Schoolhouse Studios. Council has landlord obligations in relation to Coles, through a long-term lease of the supermarket buildings, and future plans will need to take this into account.
Council owns several car parks in the heart of Coburg, all of which are at-grade rather than integrated into buildings. This means that it is a very car-dominated place compared to other activity centres, which tend to have a mix of shopping, offices, services and community facilities with car parking hidden away in basements or on higher floors.
In reimagining these car parks to fit in a renewed library building, open space and other new uses, we will have to work out what the right amount of car parking is for the facilities that are created - neither too much nor too little.
We need to ensure the local drainage system is adequate to cater for future development, to minimise pollutants entering the waterways and to cope with future flooding events.
We know water depth can reach up to 400mm along Munro and Harding Streets during the heavy storm events and are likely to increase in frequency with the impacts of climate change.
What can be influenced?
- People participating in the engagement program will be able to provide input into:
- Priorities and ideas for upgrades to streets, public places and community facilities in heart of Coburg
- Ideas for scoping a new Coburg Library, including
- what types of other uses might fit well with a library service
- what to consider about the location of the library, such as how easy it is to get to from public transport
- what to consider about the form of the new library, its visibility, character, and how it contributes to sense of place
- what kinds of activities and experiences could a new library accommodate
- Priorities for open space, such as a new Town Square, including the form, function and feel of open space, and where it is located in relation to other uses
What can't be changed?
- Change in Coburg:
Council and State Government policy (defined through the Merri-bek Planning Scheme) determines that activity centres like Coburg should have an intensity of activity, people, jobs, housing and public facilities. This is so that people can travel to local centres and fulfil many of their needs (work, shopping, services, leisure, entertainment) in one place. Coburg is lacking this intensity at the moment.
- The expanse of large unshaded concrete in the car parks is causing the heart of Coburg to be a hotspot for the urban heat island effect
- Major upgrades to drainage are likely necessary to cope with changes to flood levels brought about by climate change
- Council does not have a limitless budget and resources.
- Some elements may be covered by legislative requirements, such as carparking provisions, procurement, accessibility and lease agreements
- Council has obligatoins as a landlord in its lease agreement with Coles