Update December 2017:
Not only was the Great Ocean Road underpass to the Fairhaven Surf Lifesaving Club and Beach massive, it was a colour that would draw attention to it. After an outcry from our community, VicRoads arranged for the underpass and associated infrastructure to be painted darker, less obtrusive colours. The whole structure (concrete walls, handrails, barriers and fences) has been painted a ‘palette’ of four different colours. Each concrete panel is painted one colour.
Once the mature plants have become established, they will also contribute to the softening appearance of the underpass.
Finally, VicRoads has reported that the lights have now been changed and that there is a significant reduction in ‘glare’ from the lights at night.
Update October 2017: October finally brought the completion of the painting of the new underpass that links the Surf Life Saving Club to the parking lot on the other side of the Great Ocean Road. The grey colours now used for the tunnel and its ramps, and for the retaining walls and fences, provide a more recessive appearance for the extensive structural elements thus, as the community requested, reducing the visual impact (see the comparative photographs below). As agreed, the following actions have been/will be taken:
- the metal fencing has been powder coated in grey
- the concrete walls have been painted in grey tones
- landscaping will include the planting of larger and more mature bushes
- the lighting is being reviewed to minimise light spill and intrusiveness
Planting will be completed after the summer.
September 2017: We are frustrated that the various actions agreed to by VicRoads are taking so long to complete and that the timing keeps slipping. The latest information we have from VicRoads is as follows:
Lndscape planting of 1.3 m high Prickly Tea-tree plants on the south side of the Great Ocean Road and of Seaberry Saltbush in a triangular bed on the north side of the Great Ocean Road has been completed.
The painting of the remainder of the underpass, ramp walls, barriers and fences will be carried out from this month (September) when the weather is warmer, for curing of the two coats of paint.
Lights on top of the poles near the stairs will be replaced with lights that are not as bright and have a narrower beam. This is also planned to happen in September.
June 2017: VicRoads has advised AIDA that the painting of the guard rail, weld mesh fence posts and painting of the north-facing wall (behind the bus shelter) was due to begin in the middle of June. Planting the mature prickly tea tree will be done when the painting of this section is complete. The rest of the underpass painting is due to start shortly after.
April 22nd 2017: At a meeting held on April 3 with representatives from VicRoads, Surf Coast Shire, DELWP, the surf club and AIDA, agreements were reached on the painting, landscaping and lighting of the Fairhaven underpass. Hopefully there will significant progress on all these issues by the end of May.
Painting – the group agreed that a 3 colour palette with brownish tones would be used to re-paint the underpass. (Breaking up the expanse of concrete with different colours was recommended by VicRoads landscapers.) The walls, rails and mesh will all be painted and this work should be finished by the end of May. The darker colour will be used under the lights to reduce light spill.
Landscaping – VicRoads will plant some largish Prickly Tea Tree bushes in front of the railings on the seaward side of the GOR either side of the bus shelter. The landscaper who does the planting will have a two year maintenance agreement with VicRoads. AIDA asked for some higher plants be planted in front of the railing on the opposite side of the road. The seaberry saltbushes already planted should get to two metres. The new planting should happen by the end of April or early May.
DEWLP and GORCC are negotiating a 10 year agreement to cover the planting and maintenance of the dune. The planting should happen during autumn and winter 2017.
Lighting – the lights on the poles on the northern side of the road will be replaced with a shorter pole light with a directional LED light which should diminish light spill. The lights in the tunnel will also be changed.
March 2017: It is disappointing that much of the work to improve the visual intrusion of the Fairhaven underpass is still not complete. The consultative group, which has representatives from the shire, ward councillors, Surf Club, VicRoads, AIDA and the community, should be meeting shortly to discuss the actions needed.
In September 2016, VicRoads, DELWP and GORCC met on-site to discuss the re-vegetation of the sand dune and work on the ongoing maintenance. This work is still in progress.
The southern wall lights have been changed to LED bulbs with new surrounds. VicRoads say the alterations have reduced the light spill while achieving the minimum lighting they require. VicRoads has asked the designer to also review lighting in the tunnel and the northern approaches.
The landscaping has not gone as well as had been predicted. VicRoads has purchased some mature prickly teatree plants to help break up the appearance of the southern wall. These trees will be planted mid to late April 2017 when the conditions are better suited for their establishment. At the consultation meeting, AIDA will be asking for some larger screening plants to be included in the landscaping on the northern side of the Great Ocean Road.
Late last year some of the vertical concrete panels on the underpass were painted different shades of grey. The consultative group will be discussing and comparing the two colour schemes and proceed with the one that will best blend the concrete panels with the landscape. It is hoped that the painting will be done during autumn.
Have you seen the ‘Yellow Peril’?
Well so have we, on the Great Ocean Road at Fairhaven! And, with concerns about lack of local consultation and a design that appears more suited to a suburban railway station than a coastal underpass, AIDA joined community representatives Libby Mears and Paul Greene along with Surf Coast Shire CEO and officers, a ward councillor, the GORCC CEO; and representatives of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and the Fairhaven Surf Life Saving Club to discuss lack of consultation, ways to ameliorate the impact of the design itself, reduction of night lighting, future landscaping and a limit to further sealing and signage within the Yarringa car park.
The first meeting was held in mid-December 2015 and AIDA members were sent an email outlining the meeting and the issues raised. VicRoads agreed that there had been limited community consultation and agreed to improved consultation by placing information brochures in local shops and newspaper advertisements that would contain updates on progress and contact details for community feedback. Following that meeting a letter was sent to the group by AIDA, Libby Mears and Paul Greene requesting the following:
• an agreement to full community consultation for any further works;
• community involvement on underpass wall colour/ murals with an expected outcome of a more recessive pro le;
• removal of the large and highly visible black lighting fixtures and replacement with less intrusive movement controlled lighting;
• installation of movement sensors to all lighting in the tunnel;
• investigation of possible engineering solutions to the underpass itself including cutting the concrete wall on the sand dune and capping the tunnel allowing for restoration of the sand dune over the top and removal of steel capping; also covering the car park tunnel with either concrete or clear material to again allow removal of all unsightly barriers and lighting;
• removal of steel topping barriers and replacement with a more “coastal” safety railing;
• a commitment to community consultation in plant choice in landscaping proposed for autumn.
AIDA also drew the committee’s attention to the provisions of the Surf Coast Planning Scheme and the Victorian Coastal Council’s Siting and Design Guidelines for Structures on the Victorian Coast. These provide planning guidelines to ‘ensure sympathetic development which complements the surrounding landscape and results in excellent design and more generally by raising awareness of the importance of achieving sensitive design and development along the Victorian Coast’.
The urban design of this underpass does none of this, and also fails to adhere to the hard-won principles of the Aireys Inlet to Eastern View Neighbourhood Character.
A follow-up meeting was held on 11 February 2016 with all in attendance. VicRoads acknowledged once more the lack of community consultation on its part during the design and construction process. It was agreed the publicity that had been committed to at the last meeting had not been very e ective. Surf Coast Shire reported that it had missed opportunities for input and that the local councillors had not been kept in the loop.
VicRoads could not commit to re-engineering the underpass, which would cost about $2million and there were no funds available for this. They produced a draft vegetation plan and mock-ups of different colouring treatments for the tunnel, including murals. There was a long discussion on how to reduce the impact of the steel topping, including painting or replacement with other materials such as plexiglass. VicRoads had a professional look at the lighting and agreed that it was ‘over lit’. Suggestions included toning down the effect by removing some globes, reducing the lighting to the minimum required and investigating options to get rid of the black standard lamps – e.g. strip lighting on the stairs – but they were not keen on sensor lights.
VicRoads agreed to prepare photomontage mock-ups showing what the underpass would look like if the various options raised were used – different colours, planting, using different materials to replace the mesh. They would also prepare a community consultation plan for seeking responses from the wider community to the various options.
In May 2016 the Fairhaven underpass reference group (AIDA, VicRoads, the shire, community members and the Surf Lifesaving Club) met to discuss the community’s feedback about the visual impacts of the Fairhaven underpass. They agreed that the following actions will be taken:
- the metal fencing will be powder coated in grey
- the concrete walls will be painted in grey tones
- landscaping will include the planting of larger and more mature bushes during August 2016
- the lighting will be reviewed to minimise light spill and intrusiveness
- there will be no mural or artwork in the underpass at this stage.The reference group also agreed that sample areas of the powder coating and painting will be done for the group to review. If necessary, other colour options will be explored before the nal colours are approved.VicRoads has engaged a lighting specialist to minimise light spill from the structure, change the way the ramps are lit and the lighting poles. This work should be done before the walls are repainted.The reference group will meet again to review the sample painting, which will be done during spring.The net effect of the changes will, hopefully, reduce the visual intrusion of the underpass, especially as the plants establish and grow, but it will always be a scar on the landscape.
Barbara Fletcher and Charlotte Allen