Melbourne beach icon’s redevelopment draws mixed response

Georgia Comensoli

Katherine Eyles resides on Normanby St, directly opposite the beach boxes. Photo: Georgia Comensoli
Katherine Eyles resides on Normanby St, directly opposite the beach boxes. Photo: Georgia Comensoli

The Brighton Beach Boxes are one of the icons associated with Melbourne, but the Bayside city council is planning a complete redevelopment of the area.

The project that has been kept under wraps was revealed to the public earlier this year.

Since it’s unveiling, local council meetings have included much discussion over whether or not this redevelopment scheme is in the interests of the local community.

The scheme’s proposal has listed infrastructure valued at $A5.7 million, with Urban planners suggesting it will probably cost the local council more when the construction begins.

An urban planning researcher from the University of Melbourne Eliza Budd says such redevelopments usually involve juggling competing interests.

“It is incredibly hard to fulfill the needs of the local community, the physical needs of the area, maintaining aesthetic and pleasing local residents,” she said.

“Ideas can, majority of the time, be better left as ideas.”

Currently, the beach area where the Brighton Beach boxes are play host to a range of different community initiatives.

It’s a popular spot for water sports fanatics with activities like paddle boarding, kite surfing, and sea swimming.

The Brighton Life Saving club has been hosting nippers and club members for more than 50 years.

The estimated numbers of nippers each season can reach to 250, with around 900 club members in total.

The club that has been a local institution since 1959 doesn’t have enough space to fill demand for its services.

The new plans for the area will see the club facilities able to fulfill these demands, and add new amenities to the area such as a café and restaurant which can also function as a local bar.

But the proposed redevelopment of the area will also potentially see weekly activities by nippers staggered and displaced. 

Local resident Katherine Eyles has welcomed the plans.

“It’ll be nice to bring some fun and ambience to the area, and move away from the Brighton stereotype of young families,” she said.

 

 

Katherine Eyles resides on Normanby St, directly opposite the beach boxes

 

At the Bayside council meeting in July, members of the community had questions regarding the feasibility of the redevelopment.

Their main concerns were around the costs that will be incurred and the impact of the development on the residents’ quality of life.

The council has been trying to raise funds for the development by constructing newer beach boxes for auction, with some sold for around $A200,000-$270,000.

But, councillors say, this will not be enough to keep the planned redevelopment afloat.

The boxes that have been auctioned off have seen record prices this financial year, with the highest amount selling for $270,000.

They can only be owned by locals in the area, but are extremely popular among tourists.

The council says federal and state governments will be called on for help and making sure construction meets deadline.

In terms of design features, the architects on board from Melbourne firm Jackson Clements Burrows are hoping to choose concrete and soft colors that will help this process of making newer structures look apart of the landscape.

Added bonuses to the development include improvements on the signage, and replacement of public amenities, while removing the storm water scour that develops routinely along the beach by configuring a new storm water system.