As part of the installation of the Route 86 disabled compliant tram stops, Urban Initiatives was engaged by the City of Darebin to prepare a streetscape masterplan for High Street Northcote which would consider how these tram stops could be integrated with the streetscape and designed to become part of the active public realm. Critical to this was the challenge of how to build upon the distinctive urban character of this vibrant local shopping strip.
The first step in the masterplan process was the preparation of a study to identify the existing character, community values and qualities of High Street. Working closely with Adelaide-based placemaking specialists Hemisphere Design, an extensive trader and community consultation process was undertaken to ensure the design proposal built on and strengthened the existing character and the values. The Northcote Traders Association was integral to this process.
The stakeholder engagement revealed the community’s desire to embed the gritty and ‘real’ urban character of Northcote in any design improvements. This included acknowledgment of the significant value that the local music and arts scene contributes to the character of the place as well as the importance of the heritage streetscape.
In response this feedback Urban Initiatives developed a design approach which identified the tram stop zones as being key opportunities for high-quality public space which reflected the distinctive character of the place and that the spaces in between would by contrast require simple but consistent streetscape treatments, pulling the whole street together. Other opportunities identified in the masterplan included bespoke wayfinding treatments, upgrades to laneways and car park connections, sustainability initiatives, streetscape furniture, street trees and greening opportunities.
The resulting Masterplan established a design vision for the precinct which was implemented by Council over several years and also incorporated into the Yarra Trams and VicRoads design work for the tram stops. The success of this project led Urban Initiatives to develop further designs for the City of Darebin which include the ‘Northcote Wayfinding Strategy’ and designs for a range of additional urban spaces in the precinct.
This project has been recognised as an exemplar in the integration of the DDA compliant tram stops within an active strip shopping centre.
Masterplanners & Lead Consultant
City of Darebin
Sketches by John Burgess
First Nation Land