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Award for Melbourne creek transformation

City creeks and waterways around Melbourne are being restored into accessible community spaces, and the transformation has been recognised with a prestigious infrastructure award.

Melbourne Water’s Reimagining Your Creek program has won the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) Victoria Award of Excellence for Infrastructure.

Program Manager Neil Featonby said the program aims to improve and promote community access to local waterways and build further opportunities for community exchange and connection.

“The Reimagining Your Creek program seeks to transform previously engineered stormwater channels back to more natural spaces for community enjoyment and wellbeing, while supporting stronger environmental outcomes,” he said.

“It provides a way for people to reconnect with nature and their local waterway — the landscaping includes paths and bridges and we've planted more than 400,000 native aquatic and riparian plants.”

Partnering with REALMstudios and Alluvium Consulting, Melbourne Water has completed the environmental revitalisation of Arnolds Creek in Melton and Blind Creek at Boronia.

“Melbourne Water has embraced a holistic and collaborative approach in delivering the Arnolds Creek and Blind Creek projects,” Featonby said.

“By engaging the community and local stakeholders — the people who are most likely to use the open space — the final re-design was one that better meets their needs and preferences.

“The approach empowered the Arnolds and Blind Creek communities by giving them an opportunity to influence the decision making during planning and development stages.

“By working together, we found we could determine the best liveability outcomes based on local knowledge, experience, ideas, suggestions and values.”

Arnolds Creek community hub (Picture: Rory Gardiner)

The design approach includes a mix of face-to-face and online activities, with community advisory groups playing a central role in collaborating with local residents and the community to identify the liveability outcomes, Featonby said.

“The challenge was in ensuring everyone had a say in its design and that the final design reflected the community input and feedback we received,” he said.

Other projects in the pipeline include Tarralla Creek in Croydon and Moonee Ponds Creek at Strathmore and Oak Park.

Looking further afield

Featonby said the success of the program has led to plans to expand it further, with the potential to deliver more projects in commercial and semi-rural districts.

“Melbourne Water is currently looking at a number of sites in these areas that will form the next stage of the program, which will also focus more on incorporating Integrated Water Management (IWM) outcomes to ensure water is treated and harvested for community use such as irrigation on recreational sports fields,” he said.

But for now, Melbourne Water is delighted to receive the award and watch the benefits of the city revitalisations flow through to the community.

“This has created natural and open spaces for the community to enjoy and we’re delighted with the outcome for the creeks and surrounds,” Featonby said.

“Melbourne Water and the Reimagining Your Creek team are very excited to win this Award of Excellence for Infrastructure.”

Other projects in the pipeline as part of the Reimagining Your Creek program include Tarralla Creek in Croydon and Moonee Ponds Creek at Strathmore and Oak Park.