Balaclava Walk’s end slows to a crawl

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MAJOR parties involved in beautifying works on Carlisle Street were not told of proposed building demolitions as part of a master plan for the Balaclava Walk.

The master plan aims to overhaul the area around Balaclava Station, starting next year, as part of other works that would prepare Balaclava for thousands more residents.

The walk aims to increase pedestrian and transport access.

But part of the master plan to build public spaces and expose historic bluestone on the south side of Carlisle Street at the train bridge needs support from the landowner, state government body VicTrack, to succeed.

VicTrack owns two buildings at 205-207 and 209 Carlisle Street but says the master plan’s intentions for the space is news to them.

“VicTrack has, to date, not received advice from any party as to any land requirements for the project,” spokesman Mac Henshall said. “Accordingly, we are unable to comment further.”

VicTrack has not approached the buildings’ tenants, who have received documents outlining the proposal in a council letter. The documents include a diagram (pictured) that shows planter boxes and seats where their shops are now.

Port Phillip council produced the master plan and is co-ordinating the plan’s public consultation.

Acting mayor Frank O’Connor said no property would be demolished without consultation with VicTrack and Public Transport Victoria once leases near their expiration.

Wilson Real Estate moved into the property at 209 Carlisle Street in the past 12 months.

Balaclava Optical Service has been a long-term tenant at 205-207 Carlisle Street.

Representatives from those businesses did not speak on the record; VicTrack would not say when the leases would expire.

Cr O’Connor said the waiting areas on Carlisle Street will not be built until “opportunities arise”. It is understood leases on parts of the site last until nearly 2030.

The plan aims to repave a walkway along the railway between Carlisle Street to Nightingale Street and install lighting, due to begin next financial year. It will also plan for housing to be built at the car park on the west side of the station, which has no start date.

Las Chicas part-owner Jim Olliver said he had been in talks with the transport department about the Balaclava Walk for two years.

He said the loss of car parking at the back of his cafe was “a concern to me and traders”.

But on the whole, the project would be beneficial to the area. “We’ve embraced it from day one with council and the Department of Transport.”

Information boards will be displayed at the site on July 11 and July 25.

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