Melbourne’s south east will soon be home to 22.5 hectares of new open space, which has been dubbed one of the city’s largest-ever releases of urban parkland.

To be designed by Aspect Studios and COX Architecture in collaboration, the proposed parkland will form part of a project that will see Melbourne’s Level Crossing Removal Authority remove nine dangerous and congested level crossings between Caulfield and Dandenong. To do so, the rail line will be elevated in three sections. The planned linear parkland will be constructed beneath this elevated section of rail.

“While improving congestion and safety will always be at the heart of this project, we are also setting out to transform places. [This] open space is an amazing opportunity to do just that,” says Brett Summers, project director at the Level Crossing Removal Authority. 

Key features of the urban parkland include a linear parkland, a 17-kilometre walking and cycling path that will extend from Monash University’s Caulfield Campus to the East Link Trail, and seven new recreational areas. There will also be more than 30,000 new trees and shrubs planted.

A $15-million maintenance fund is being provided for the long-term care of the urban parkland. This will be set aside to cover common problems such as graffiti removal, weeding, cleaning and rubbish collection.

A specially-formed Community Open Space Expert Panel was integral to the finalisation of the design process. A key recommendation from the panel, which was led by Royal Botanic Gardens chief Tim Entwisle, was that recreational spaces should have ‘something for everyone’. In response to this, dog parks, basketball courts and bouldering have all been incorporated into the park’s design, in addition to more traditional park amenities such as picnic seating and barbecues. 

Construction of the project is expected to commence once the current rail line has been moved onto the elevated structure and the old tracks have been removed. A completion date is slated for late 2018.