Gardiners Creek Trail

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Gardiners Creek Trail

Primary contact: Graeme

The Boroondara Bicycle Users Group (BdaraBUG) is a keen supporter of addressing the missing link in the Gardiners Creek shared path in East Malvern from the Solway Bridge to the Warrigal Rd / Gardiners Creek bridge. Refer to the Parks Victoria publication Linking People and Spaces 2002: A Strategy for Melbourne’s Open Space Network - (large PDF 4.86mb)

BdaraBUG members have attended public consultations and a stakeholders consultative meeting to discuss the Gardiners Creek trail gap proposal. Although the Markham path will be an asset in its own right for many users, it may not provide the best solution for a regional link. Cyclists remain concerned that the best solution may not have been found and that community funds may not be spent wisely.

In 2005 the allocation of funds for a feasibility study for the missing link in the Gardiners Creek bicycle and walking trail was most welcome. An extract from the Progress Leader at the time read in part:

‘A State Government $30,000 grant allows the gap, between Warrigal Rd, Malvern East and Solway St to be filled. The funding will be made available to Stonnington Council. Stonnington, Boroondara and Monash will help develop a plan to complete the trail. Monash Province Labour MP Johan Scheffer said that the grant was provided through the Community Facilities Funding program, which supported the recreational needs of communities.‘

Unfortunately the feasibility study lost credibility when virtually only one option was allowed to be properly considered and stakeholders weren't consulted. BdaraBUG members were present when Stonnington Council and their consultant presented their report, which Boroondara staff had not even seen before. The result is that Stonnington have formulated a (poor) solution outside Stonnington. Stonnington has consistently asserted that a path will not be tolerated on the south side adjacent to the golf course. Clearly golfers needs must be respected but there are other examples of shared paths co-existing beside golf courses. One regular Malvern Valley golfer has commented that he believes a path could be accommodated with a resulting improvement in safety for all. More information is still needed on an alignment which remains on the south side of Gardiners Ck from Solway bridge until it can cross to the north side at Markham Reserve then continue to Warrigal Road. Other options paralleling the railway or the Boulevard have not been properly assessed. The long lost and buried Sinclair Knight Merz 2003 report shows some of these options. All options must be considered to ensure that in the public interest the best long term solution has been achieved.

The Solway St bridge has been reopened by the City of Stonnington with minimal repairs which do not improve the sub-standard nature of the bridge. For years there has been an expectation that the bridge would be improved or replaced with a safer alignment and improved width and grade. Regardless of the Markham option is adopted or not this bridge must be upgraded as part of the project.

BdaraBUG believe that it is important to again look at the big picture in the valley. An independent body could still carry out a genuine feasibility study to determine the best possible route between the two bridges. The origin and destination of existing cyclists should be investigated, particularly those currently passing the clubhouse area, to ensure that key desire lines are addressed. A shared path investment is significant and will be for the long term, particularly the Warrigal Road underpass which is key to most route options, and so it is essential that the best overall solution is achieved for golfers, cyclists and walkers.

Warrigal Rd underpass and associated footbridge

Any bridge to the currently proposed Markham Ave route should be on the west side of Warrigal Rd, not the east side. Any underpass at Warrigal Rd should be on the south side of the creek, not the north side. The bridge could be located at 90 degrees to Warrigal Rd and 50 metres to the west of Warrigal Rd just after where the creek has done a 90 degree turn. This bridge position is preferred as the path across the bridge is straight. See bridge positions drawn in yellow in the map below.

This bridge location also ensures that an opportunity to maintain access to the very north east corner of the golf course is not lost. At a minimum a path could be run north south from the creek to just near Holmesglen station on the most eastern side of the golf course parallel to Warrigal Rd. This would provide separation from the many pedestrians using Warrigal Rd to access Holmesglen TAFE. This land usage would not impinge on the usage of the golf course and the majority of the protective fencing is already in place.

In summary a Warrigal Rd underpass, whether it be on the north or south side of the creek, would be far superior to a pedestrian crossing over Warrigal Rd.

Note that a new wetland is being installed on the east side of Warrigal Rd in Ashwood, Jingella and Holmesglen Reserves. Having a new bridge in this area may be counterproductive to the amenity of the new wetland.

2030

Chadstone is a Principal Activity Centre. Consequently this applies: Page 7, State Planning Policy Framework 2.5.3 SPPF Clause 18.03 Bicycle transport

The objective of this clause is to integrate planning for bicycle travel with land use and development planning and encourage cycling as an alternative mode of travel.

"Wherever possible, off-road bicycle networks should be planned for in new urban development."

Additionally student housing is growing in the area, resulting in Stonnington council putting together Amendment C61 to the Stonnington Planning Scheme. "Adequate provision of bicycle parking will be specifically set aside in all student housing developments." BBUG would like to think these students will be able to use their bicycles to access the TAFE on suitably constructed paths.

All roads lead to Rome?

This area is the "Camberwell junction" of bicycle trails in Boroondara/Stonnington/Monash. The green routes shown on the map below outline the existing routes. Note: only the tail ends of the existing routes are shown. The area forms an important interchange for these routes:

Additionally the paths allow access to:

  • East Malvern & Holmesglen stations
  • Holmesglen TAFE
  • Chadstone shopping center

Nearby are:

  • Deakin University
  • Ashwood Secondary School
  • Monash University - Caufield Campus

Most southern route

The route in purple on the map is another alternative to the Markham Ave route in orange. For full details on this route next to the M1, see the Golfers Choice.

It solves some problems prevalent with the suggested path:

  • eliminates an existing issue whereby pedestrians and cyclists shortcut through the golf course - Stonnington council is highly concerned for their safety. The Markham Ave route will not resolve this problem.
  • the grade of the route is far superior making it far more suitable for commuting
  • no bridges are required - a lot of dollars saved
  • the majority of the path (if not all) is above the 1 in 10 year flood level
  • creates good connection to the Waverley Rail Trail
  • better connection to Holmesglen TAFE
  • minimal impact on golf course
  • much of the protective fencing is already in place
  • avoids off-lead parks for dogs and parking areas on north side of Gardiners Creek
  • avoids high usage driveways on Markham Ave
  • avoids running the path along the nature strip in Markham Ave
  • avoids commuters totally abandoning the path by using Asburn Grv instead - which they certainly will if the Markham Ave route is put in place.
  • avoids conflict with spectators at the oval and also their parked cars - street is packed, when there is an event at the oval
  • could provide a nice shared path for residents in the Thurso/Boulevarde area. Residents in this area are actively discouraged from entering the golf course by Stonnington CC for their own safety
  • many houses along "The Boulevard" currently face on to a cyclone wire fence. The amenity and property values of these houses would be improved by moving the fence further into the golf course, while simultaneously making room for a shared path for all to enjoy.
  • no need to widen the path at the Warrigal Rd road bridge
  • could be easily implemented in stages
  • widening of the M1 freeway is a factor. However there appears to be room for the M1 widening on the south side of the freeway, on vacant land next to the train line

The shortest route

The deep pink path is by far the most direct. It would also eliminate a lot of the problems listed above while maintaining a lot of the advantages also listed above. However it still has problems with off lead dogs. It also requires two very expensive bridges. The deep pink section shown on the north bank of the creek could be located on the south bank, producing perhaps the ideal route.

However Stonnington council appears hesitant to entertain this/these route(s) even though its neighbours in Boroondara (cyclists and dog walkers alike) would prefer an alternate route to that of the proposed Markham Ave route. Golf ball injuries can be managed with appropriate fencing as is done all around the course already. Statements re: building the path on a flood plain as being problematic are totally spurious. Most of the Gardiners Creek trail is built on the creek flood plain. Banyule council successively resolved a gap on the Plenty River Trail beside a golf course in 2007 - Council report (2mB pdf) - can we learn from this?

Funding

Parks Victoria committed $250,000 in 2003 and recently (2008) another $250,000 was committed with the help of Bob Stensholt MLA for Burwood.

M1 widening

Eddington Report: "The EWLNA has noted the importance of ensuring that all new infrastructure projects in Melbourne accommodate walking and cycling access at the very early planning stages."

The M1 is being widened to accommodate more traffic. "Monash Alliance", the road builders, are expected to improve the local amenity to balance out the amenity lost due to the impact of the widened road. Typically the local councils do deals to get their local projects instigated. Stonnington Council has opted for a system that uses run off water from the tollway to water the golf course - refer to this 4.25Mb pdf. Currently the water is pumped out of Gardiners Creek, so nothing wrong with this idea.

However at the same time it would be constructive if they also considered the ongoing problems encountered with walkers and cyclists crossing the golf course at "unapproved" locations. At a consultation session with the M1 builders, it was suggested by the consultants that it may well be possible to run a shared path parallel to and north of the tollway, next to the golf course, between the East Malvern Station footbridge and Golfers Drive. Such a path could certainly connect with Thurso St, Argyll St or even a path parallel to the train line, which has ample room.

The newly constructed East Malvern Station footbridge would provide good access to a path parallel with and to the north of the highway. This would provide a highly useful path in its own right, "Gardiners Creek gap" or not.

BBUG attended community meetings held by Monash Alliance and replied with our M1 suggestions to the "Stakeholder and Community team". Our response also provides some other useful suggestions besides the one outlined above.

This section of path could contribute to a Safe Routes to School for Ashwood Secondary College. Time to travel by bicycle (15 to 20 kph) to nearby destinations from this suggested path:

  • Monash University - Caulfield Campus: 8 to 11 mins - 2.7 km
  • Ashwood Secondary School: 9 to 12 mins - 2.9 km
  • Deakin University: 15 to 20 mins - 5.0 km

Geo political boundaries

Both Stonnington Council and the Electoral district of Malvern share the same north east corner. This corner contains the golf course and is bounded by Gardiners Creek in the north and Warrigal Rd in the east. So you know who to write to:

Email Stonnington council now -->

Email the member for Malvern; Michael O'Brien MLA now -->

Bicycle Victoria

Our views on the whole are consistent with those of Bicycle Victoria. Our combined view points just reiterate the need to properly review the various alternate routes. And we repeat: "Although the Markham path will be an asset in its own right for many users, it may not provide the best solution for a regional link. Cyclists remain concerned that the best solution may not have been found and that community funds may not be spent wisely."

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