News / Planning

Breese Block vision begins to take shape

Resident group is now pushing for two more pedestrian crossings

Making use of the new Breese Street pedestrian crossing are (from left) Martina Tempestini, Sally Gray, Andy Fergus, Katherine Sundermann and Bonnie Herring.

Mark Phillips

A NEW pedestrian crossing spanning a few metres of road may not sound like a big deal, but to the Better Breese Block neighbourhood group it symbolises progress. 

The new zebra crossing connecting Bulleke-bek Park to Anstey Square is the first tangible result of the Better Breese Block initiative that has been created to improve residential and public amenity in the area near Anstey Station. 

Costing about $20,000, the crossing was completed in February and has already had an impact of slowing traffic and making drivers more careful. 

But the new crossing is just the tip of the iceberg of ambitious plans for the area. 

“It’s absolutely fantastic for us because we were formed in October 2022 and that’s our first material practical implementation success story,” said Dr Sally Gray, one of the founders of Better Breese Block.

“So it gives us confidence and our over 600 followers on Instagram faith that there is a point to lobbying for change and for better community safety.”  

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Better Breese Block is a resident led initiative to advocate for improvements to the area roughly bordered by Albion and Hope streets to the north and south, and Sydney Road and the Upfield line to the east and west. 

About eight hectares in area, ‘Breese Block’ was for many decades a light industrial zone full of low-rise factories and warehouses, but it is undergoing a rapid transformation into one of the most densely populated residential neighbourhoods in metropolitan Melbourne. 

Despite hundreds of new residents moving into the area, it has a shortage of public open space, a lack of tree cover, and narrow footpaths and poor road surfaces make it difficult to move around in, especially for people with mobility issues. 

Better Breese Block wants to create a healthy, safe, vibrant and sustainable neighbourhood based around four pillars of safe streets; nature rich and resilient; local, full of life and ever-evolving; and welcoming, social and inclusive. 

In November last year, about 60 local residents took part in a workshop to brainstorm ideas about how to make the area more liveable. 

Out of that workshop has come a wishlist of dozens of ideas, almost half of them focussed on making the area’s streets safer for all users. 

The pedestrian crossing was already in progress by then, and while the group would have preferred a raised crossing with a speed hump and some foliage, Gray said they were still very happy with the outcome. 

“Because one of our four pillars is safe streets for people the and fact that we’re committed to people of all ages being safe to walk and cycle in the street is important to us… it means a lot to us that through successful lobbying with councillors we did get that happening.”  

With the encouragement of current Mayor Adam Pulford, the group is now seeking to have the council install pedestrian crossings at either end of Breese Street. Gray said the Hope Street corner was particularly dangerous for pedestrians because of its proximity to Ovens Street. 

The group has also applied for funding for some trees to be planted in the area. 

“Greening has always been one of our four pillars and we’re hoping that every street, lane and building has some form of vegetation,” Gray said.  

“There isn’t much greenery and this is one of the hottest heat islands in Merri-bek.” 

Read more:

Breese Block residents seek improvements