Can you get through Beacon Cove [and how much does it matter]?

Beacon Cove was being discussed at the council meeting last night because Amendment C73, which would make the City of Port Phillip the responsible authority for the area* and put in place planning policies, was presented for adoption.

As part of this process a report by SJB Urban, Beacon Cove Neighbourhood Character Guidelines 2010, has been prepared (which you can download). Amongst discussion of roof tiles and window frames I found much mention of the ‘existing grid-based, permeable street layout’ and recommendations that it ‘should be retained.’ (SJB Urban 2010: 38, 53, 65, 77 & 89). In fact, the only parts of Beacon Cove not described in this way are First Point and the High Rise Residential Precinct, which is unsurprising as both run in a straight line along the waterfront leaving no scope for a grid. However, they do have frontages onto both roads and the waterfront promenades (SJB Urban 2010: 92, 95 & 105), with the promenades providing a continuous walking**/ cycling link right along the waterfront.

Aside from the criticism I mentioned in an earlier post, Kim Dovey in Fluid Cities was clear that Beacon Cove lacks permeability.

The most serious damage created by Beacon Cove lies in its lack if integration with its context. Sensible planning would demand a reintegration. This could include extending the main axis to link with local streets to the north; measures could also be taken to generate better access for public housing tenants to the adjacent pocket parks – this could be immediately achieved by the demolition of a single house in the ‘Berlin Wall’. (Dovey 2005: 226)

So if people cannot even decide if one part of one suburb has streets you can get through or not, how do I expect to anything about the social side of a suburb and the role that estate design may have in that?

To be fair, I am not really comparing apples with apples here. The SJB Urban report excludes the public housing that Dovey expresses such concern about; the wall that separates the public housing from the rest of Beacon Cove provides part of the neat border between the subject area and the rest of Port Melbourne. Also, the SJB Urban references to ‘grid-style’ are for the different precincts within Beacon Cove rather than for Beacon Cove as a whole or its connection with Port Melbourne. In fact, many of the grid like roads end at the end of Beacon Cove, although they allow pedestrians (and the odd cyclist who might like to break the rules and ride on the footpath) to pass through.

Dovey also has more to say about the type of community to be found in Beacon Cove, which also contrasts with what I heard last night. So check back for a future post or have a look at Dovey’s book and let me know what you think.

(* During the development of Beacon Cove the local government in which it sits was not the responsible authority for planning. Perhaps a future post will look at the interplay between local government, state government and community consultation.

** Although the stairs on the walking path that makes up part of the promenade has lead to some reports of heated exchanges between cyclists and pedestrians using the path marked as bicycles only)

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