Marrickville Council has released plans for enhancement works on Station Street & part of Schwebel Street Marrickville. Station Street connects with the west-bound platform of Marrickville Railway Station & is referred to as a ‘gateway to Marrickville.’

This area has looked very neglected, tired & ugly for many years & street enhancement works are long over-due.  The following is what Council intends to do –  “The proposed enhancement works will be staged depending on funding  (meaning that it could take years for the improvements to be completed) & include the following attributes –

  • Full decorative paving of station street footpaths & 
  • making station street a ‘10 km/hr shared zone’ for pedestrians, cyclists & vehicles
  • partial raising of the roadway on station street (near the train station) & decorative paving;
  • full decorative paving of footpath in schwebel street & kerb extensions
  • Resealing of the road surface on station street & the surrounding adjacent lane
  • colouring the road surface in the shared zone area
  • parallel to kerb parking on both sides of station street
  • changing the traffic flow on station street from ‘two-way’ to ‘one-way’ (in north eastern direction from schwebel street to leofrene street) to better manage & accommodate traffic & pedestrian movements
  • providing landscaping, including street trees & landscaped areas where possible
  • Decorative bollards & street furniture on station street in selected locations
  • upgrading & extending the existing stormwater system on station street & schwebel street to better manage overland flows during heavy storm events
  • providing water sensitive urban design features, including up to 2 rain gardens & possible porous paving
  • a ‘loading zone’ on station street outside shops
  • a mobility parking space on schwebel street
  • two motor cycle parking spots & cycle parking on station street
  • filtered drinking water fountain.”

On the City of Sydney Council end of King Street Newtown there are planter boxes spaced around every 4-5 metres. They look great adding colour & beauty. Even if Marrickville Council's budget doesn't stretch to seasonal flowers, planter boxes along Station Street could be filled with longer lasting & hardy plants such as lavender.

I like the filtered drinking fountain, the new street trees, the park bench, the disabled parking space & the 2 raingardens.

I question the location of the disabled parking space on Schwebel Street as it is almost as far away from the railway station as you can get. I think Council wants this one space to provide for both the railway station & the shopping strip.  The loss of parking spaces on Station Street would concern me if I had a business in this area.

Hard surfaces are a strong feature in these plans.  Black pavers will be put on the footpath on 3 sides of the block & on a new footpath across the road & infront of the railway station.  Porous pavers will be placed in the car parking spaces & the road surface at the entrance to Station Street.   The full length of Station Street adjacent to the railway station will be terracotta-coloured paving instead of the current bitumen & the rest of Station Street will be resurfaced with bitumen.  While pavers are okay, I think they cost an extraordinary amount of money & will become dirty with globs of chewing gum within months.

4 tree pits will be created for 4 new street trees… or there could be 6 new street trees. The plans are not clear to me just how many trees & which species of tree goes in what place.  I think Lilly pillies (Syzgium luehmanii) will be planted along the first section of Station Street before the railway station, 2 on each side.  I think 1 Callery pear (pyrus calleryana) will be planted in each of the 2 raingardens situated on the corner of Station & Schwebbel Streets & the corner of Leofrene Street & Schwebbel Street.  I think.  Raingardens across Marrickville LGA don’t usually include trees, especially taller growing trees, so it might be just 2 Lilly pillies & 2 Callery pear trees, not 6 trees all up.

A hedge of Photinia ‘rubens’ will be planted in 45-metres of new garden bed beside the wall that runs along where Illawarra Road travels over the railway line. My concern about this hedge is, being an Asian exotic, it offers nothing for wildlife, though it would be better than the current dirty brick wall.

The plans include a new footpath next to the hedge & along the fence line of the railway station.  I suspect very few people will use these footpaths as most exit the station & walk along the footpath outside the shops on Station Street or cut across the street in a long diagonal sweep to get to the pedestrian crossing at the corner of Schwebel Street & Illawarra Road.  The new footpath area is currently a drop-off & pick-up zone. Many more vehicles use it than what is to become a 3 car & 2 motorcycle parking area.  The plans to narrow the street will make drop-offs & pick-ups a cause for blockages of the street & inevitable arguments. Waiting cars will likely move to Schwebel Street creating different problems.

The community can make comment & give feedback to Council about the proposed enhancements of Station Street.  The following is what I would create in this space –

I suspect the hard surfaces alone will amount to the bulk of the plan’s budget though there is no indication how much these works will cost.   Instead of spending money on pavers the budget could be spent on large planter boxes to surround 3 sides of this block of shops & apartments.  I’d also copy City of Sydney Council & install large hanging baskets of red Begonias at regular intervals….planter box, hanging basket, planter box, hanging basket etc.  Living colour would have a much greater & pleasant impact on the streetscape than pavers & be visible from a much greater distance.

These photos show how little actual space is needed to create a living structure that greens up the area & adds significant beauty. The benefits of green walls are many.

I’d like to see a tall steel trellis structure placed outside the length of the railway station fence instead of a new footpath & planted with vines to create a green wall.  This would offer the shops a green vista, create shade at certain times of the day, lower the urban heat island effect, add beauty & green up this area. It would also act as a windbreak as well as reduce the noise from passing trains.  The railway station commuters would also benefit.  I’d also create another green wall for the 45-metre length of brick wall that is beneath Illawarra Road & fronts onto Station Street.

City of Sydney Council used steel structures that take up a minimum amount of space to create green walls under the overpass near the Pyrmont Fish Markets to great effect.  Railcorp has done similar in Newtown.  Vine covered structures would require far less care & could reach a much greater height than a hedge. If it has to be a hedge against this wall, I’d like it to be an Australian native that provides food for wildlife, like a Callistemon.

I’d also plant a tall tree with a large canopy in each of the raingardens, because raingardens can be much more than just grasses.  If the raingardens are where the Callery pear trees are meant to go, I’d change the species of tree to something that was evergreen & offered food & habitat to wildlife.

One person suggested to me that tall-growing Eucalypts should be planted along the wall beside Illawarra Road where the hedge & new footpath is planned.  These trees would match the Casuarinas across the railway line at the side of the old Marrickville RSL & the Eucalypts planted by Railcorp on the other side of Illawarra Road. They would do away with the Callery pear trees altogether & plant something that is useful to wildlife.

If you want to have an input on how this ‘gateway to Marrickville’ will look, you will need to put in a submission.  The deadline for submissions is 5pm, Friday 23rd March 2012.  I would suggest that your submission also be forwarded to all the Marrickville Councillors as they will be the ones who vote on the final approval. 

Both the Council & the Councillors email addresses can be found at the top of this blog.  You can download the 1-page plans here – http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/marrwr/_assets/main/lib65096/proposed%20enhancement%20works%20at%20station%20st,%20marrickville.pdf

Imagine something like this hanging from the shop awnings. City of Sydney Council placed hanging pots of Begonias along Glebe Point Road Glebe & they look very striking.

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