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Better Block To Transform Clovelly ‘Village’

By Marcus Braid on October 10, 2014 in News

Photo: Ari Anderson

Photo: Ari Anderson

Clovelly residents are gearing up for the second instalment of the Better Block Project after its resounding popularity last year, and plans have begun for a much grander offering this time around.

A section of Clovelly Road, near the intersection of Fern and Mount Streets, will be transformed on October 19 to make it greener, safer and more sustainable. A competition has also been run to design and construct a ‘parklet’ for this year’s Better Block, with a $10,000 prize for the winning design.

“We talked a lot about building a parklet and did a few different design exercises where we all designed a parklet together,” event organiser Megan Sharkey said.

“Everyone agreed that they really liked having greenery, trees and lighting, and that it should have native flora and fauna.

“They wanted to be able to move the seating around and have tables where maybe you’re standing up around a table. They wanted flexibility on where to sit or stand or put a pram.”

The organising team for Better Block 2014 is also planning to reimagine Clovelly Road as the main link from Centennial Park to the Pacific Ocean. ‘Park to Pacific’, as it has become known, would encourage the development of eight local shopping villages, and they are currently asking residents and businesses to put forward their ideas.

“We’ve got it as a five to ten-year vision. It’s all about linking all the villages,” Ms Sharkey said.

“One of the key things is that the people around each little business pocket become the driver of the change they want to see. We link everything together.”

Michael Neuman, part of the Park to Pacific team and a Professor of Sustainable Urbanism at UNSW, said the grand vision for Clovelly Road could be linked to the old tramline that once wound through the suburb.

“There used to be the tram, and every 500 or so metres there’s a commercial section with shops, so that’s where the tram stopped obviously,” he said.

“One of the things we want to do is make traffic safer and calmer, and the other is to have potentially a bike lane all the way from Centennial Park to the beach.”

Better Block 2014 will be showcased as part of the International Walk21 Conference, which is being hosted by the NSW Government and the City of Sydney.

“It’s an international conference every two years that moves to a different global city each time,” Ms Sharkey said.

“There are quite a few experts who we’ve already contacted that have agreed to come on the day. It will give us the opportunity to be on a bigger stage and talk to people who do this all over the world.”

Mr Neuman said the aim was to do “all kinds of things” to improve the block for the day.

“Some ideas this year are a mural, a parklet, to have street trees, to have lots of other vegetation, and to extend the foot paths further in to slow the traffic,” he said.

“There’s going to be scores of stands or booths on the day for local businesses, and not just on those two blocks.

“Obviously I’m enthusiastic, but if you talk to anyone involved, I think you’ll find the same enthusiasm. This is grassroots; this is the community saying ‘this is what we want’. These are little things that make our day-to-day lives better.”

Some community members last year had concerns about parking space being taken away by the event and access to parts of Clovelly Road being restricted, but that will not be the case this time around.

“Last year we barricaded the space and this year we’re not doing that,” Ms Sharkey said.

“Everything we’re doing is trying to be a bit more realistic in terms of what can be left over after the day.

“It will give a sense more of what it will actually be like, rather than the event style atmosphere. This year people will still be able to park like they would everyday.”

Organisers are looking for people to volunteer to help organise the Better Block 2014 event. Please email parktopacific@gmail.com, visit www.parktopacific.org or join their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/parktopacific to get involved.

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