Council’s green spine modification could cost it award

The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects will consider whether a Landscape Architecture Award given in recognition of a green spine project in 2019 continues to be appropriate in light of the council’s decision to modify the project.

The Council of Greater Geelong last week approved a plan to partially remove the Malop Street Green Spine project in CBD, less than two years after its completion. The project was designed by Outlines Landscape Architecture, and won the Landscape Architecture Award for Civic Landscape at the National Landscape Architecture Awards in October 2019. It comprised the creation of a new eight-metre-wide botanic walk on the south side of the street and the planting of trees on the north side of the street. New separated bike lanes were also installed on the road in each direction, replacing turning lanes and some on-street parking.

The jury described the project as “a shining example of how traditional retail streets can become inviting public spaces during the day and at night.”

Shaun Walsh, National President of AILA, said that “The issue is the recognition of Geelong City Council rather than the recognition of the design team.”

“The thought is whether the Council should continue to be acknowledged when it is taking a retrograde step in removing a critical component of the green spine. The Victorian Chapter are considering the issue and will advise the National Board and we will determine next steps at our next Board meeting 13 March.”

In an interview with ABC Radio on 29 February, Walsh described the council’s decision as “a knee-jerk reaction coming up to local government elections, and they’re not concerned with the long term prosperity of Geelong.”

The state government is similarly displeased, and has acted on a threat to freeze state government funding for infrastructure projects in the Geelong CBD.

The motion approved by the council stipulates that work on the modifications should begin “no later than the 2020/2021 financial year.”

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