Rain gardens and liveability in Albert Park
It’s a pleasure to cross this street in Albert Park, especially at this time of year. On the far side of the intersection is a rain garden, one of the more than 200 rain gardens in Port Phillip. All the edges are planted with Santolina chamaecyparissus, also known as cotton lavender.
Santolina is extremely drought tolerant, likes full sun, and is not troubled by pests or diseases. It welcomes tough pruning. These attributes of this Mediterranean plant make it most suitable for hard working public landscapes. The cheerful button like yellow flowers create a cheerful display. The feathery grey leaves are fragrant when you brush against them. A sensory street crossing!
At this crossing, there is no level change between the kerb extension and the roadway. The crossing distance for a pedestrian is reduced. The wide footpath leads via a signalised pedestrian intersection to the Albert Park light rail stop on the frequent 96 tram service.
Albert Park has a walk score1 of 85 meaning ‘very walkable, most errands can be accomplished on foot’.
Respondents to Place Score’s surveys on liveability helped build a picture of Australia’s ideal neighbourhood: ‘it is green and celebrates the uniqueness of its natural environment, it is well maintained and cared for, and it offers local shops and services within walking distance of home2.
To improve local communities, Place Score recommends ‘common good’ investment in sustainable urban design (water sensitive design), transport-oriented design, as well as sustainable building design.
The study’s authors could have been writing about Albert Park where a combination of the suburb’s original layout and historic railway, now light rail, built on by incremental local government investment, have created this liveable place.
Albert Park is now the most expensive suburb in Melbourne with land priced at$13,915 per sq m in February 2023. The median house price is $2,100,000.
Is unaffordability a necessary consequence of investment in the public realm?
Hodyl & Co propose that ‘an ethical city delivers the housing people need – well-located, high-quality, affordable and secure.
The remaining affordable housing in Albert Park is the 78 public housing units for older people at 150 Victoria Avenue. They are on the Big Build Housing programme to be ‘retired’. though it is not on the list of priority projects.
Back to the Santolina. It is very attractive to bees. European honey bees, Apis mellifera, that is.
Emma Cutting of the Heart Gardening project is tackling her next big project, a 400 sq metre native pollinator supporting naturestrip in Poolman St, Port Melbourne. Removing the turf was the first challenge. Today Emma, supported by students and parents, was laying wet cardboard on the nature strip to suppress the regrowth of grass and weeds. Tomorrow they spread the cow poo and mulch.
The project will put Port Melbourne on the map of the Melbourne Pollinator corridor which aims to connect the Royal Botanic Gardens with Westgate Park – one street garden at a time. Port Melbourne has been under represented until now.
Hodyl & Co ‘An ethical city delivers the housing people need – well-located, high-quality, affordable and secure’. Read more of their helpful contribution to the discussion on housing.
1Walk Score helps you find a walkable place to live.
2 Australian Liveability Census, Place Score