Monday, April 18, 2016

Bonbeach Vision

Click for our video describing our concepts

About Bonbeach

Bonbeach Station is 32km south of Melbourne on the Frankston line.  It serves a residential community, small retail strip and is just 200 metres from Port Phillip Bay.  Bonbeach, the suburb, is surrounded by water or parkland, with nearby services and good transport links.  More and more people are making it their home with diverse and denser housing being built.  Families priced out of closer in bayside suburbs are moving here. Melbourne’s rising metropolitan population is set to increase demand for homes near established services – such as here at Bonbeach.

The Bonbeach community

With numerous community and sporting groups we are joiners, doers and players, opportunities for outdoor team sports and recreation are abundant but it’s really the beach that’s the centre of community life.  Locals enjoy the beach year round and on hot days our beaches attract visitors from far and wide.

Whether arriving by car, bus, bike or foot, all must cross the Frankston train line, often passing near or through our stations. 

Station design theme 1: A walking community

We are in or near some of Melbourne’s most walkable suburbs. People here walk to almost everything, with abundant shops, services and open space with most station users arrive by walking. Almost all residents who walk to the station, shops or beach cross the Frankston line during some stage of their journey.  

This happened by design, not accident, our streets form a permeable grid.  This is reinforced by pedestrian crossing points every few hundred metres along the Frankston line. In planning tomorrow’s projects today we need to display similar foresight.

Station design theme 2: Respect the coastal environment

The beaches role in community in not only for individuals but also socially.  Local beach-related groups, such as our surf two lifesaving clubs, yacht club, foreshore planting and Beach Patrol illustrate this well. A narrow strip of soft grassed dunes that people walk between separate this woodland from the beach and water is a strong local theme, and you can still see this at nearby Carrum and Seaford.    

Last standing tree on the Bonbeach forseshore that represents the original coastal landscape.
Part of Kingston Council's significant Tree register.

Our station design concept takes into account these environmental elements.

Station design theme 3: Reflect coastal architecture

We recommend a stations structure based heavily on the timbers and integration with the natural surrounds.

Existing structures like Carrum Bowling Club, Seaford Lifesaving club are significant locally and have won design awards.

Our model’s entrance is designed to reflect sails on the water while the park is well integrated with timber and costal trees.  The fences shown have been influenced by dunes, aesthetically pleasing their discontinuous nature would discourage graffiti.

From coastal theme we descend to an urban oasis.  The platform is sheltered to ensure passengers spread out and an industrial vertical garden features in the centre of the platform, drawing passengers to it.

The retaining walls are covered with a combination of urban graffiti and vertical garden.  This deters taggers and ensures the harsh concrete structures are reduced to a minimum. 

Station design theme 4: Permeability and flow

As with all transport projects, permeability and flow are recurring themes and project planning needs to consider the station’s role as facilitating fast north-south travel (by train) and local east-west travel (often on foot). 

The road traffic engineer has been trained to design for traffic flowing at about 50 km/h however walking speed is nearer 5km/h.  It needs a different perspective.  For example finer grained planning, more permeability and more crossing points.    

Therefore we support pedestrian access across the railway at both north and south of the station platform, rather than just the south end, as current. These would do double duty.  Firstly they would aid pedestrian amenity for local trips, secondly, they would provide two access points to an island platform.   This would reduce backtracking for passengers, so effectively make train travel faster.  Also the island platform would allow economies with seating, ticketing equipment, etc. 

CBTS advocates a place-based design approach.  Permeability does not stop with the railway.  Nepean Hwy, with is 6 lanes of traffic, presents an even bigger divide for pedestrians accessing the shops and beach by the most direct way possible.  We support collaboration between LXRA with Vicroads to include pedestrian signals are available at both north and south ends of the platform.

Station design theme 5: Appropriate space utilisation

Dandenong line stations such as Carnegie and Murrumbeena are in dense urban areas with little public space.  Much which does exist (such as Caulfield Racecourse) has restricted access. 

In contrast, Bonbeach, with beaches to the west, river to the south and parks to the east has abundant open space. Consequently any public space benefits of elevated rail in this area may be less significant. Such space would be hemmed in by Nepean Hwy and Station St and for safety reasons it would need to be fenced, to stop families and children running across the road to get to the beach. 

Local families are not going to play in an area fenced and overshadowed by infrastructure just 25-30 meters wide, they will to go to the beach or the great playgrounds in Bicentennial Park, Chelsea and Carrum.  A bike path already exists on parallel Station St.  Families with young children tend to be drawn to the great path running by the wetlands and parks to Mordialloc as it’s both scenic and quieter.

Bonbeach is a developing suburb with increasing housing density.  However its population is confined by the wetlands and Patterson River.  We consider it unlikely to support shops on both sides of Nepean Hwy. The perceived benefits of raising the rail to create retail space are therefore less applicable here than in other more densely populated areas.  Additionally the strip would still be divided by Nepean Hwy.

Station design theme 6: Minimising vandalism

A risk we see with elevated rail is the repeated opportunities for graffiti.  Authorities have a poor past record at removing graffiti.  However we do know that reducing vandalism and graffiti opportunities through good design is effective. 

Both Chelsea and Bonbeach stations are currently well designed in terms of minimising graffiti, with minimum vertical wall space. 

Both rail under and rail over methods of grade separation introduce graffiti prevention challenges that, as we see in other parts of Melbourne, are not being met. 

Rail in trenches is not legally accessible.  However the illegality of access is seen as a challenge by vandals and few surfaces in the Melbourne rail network are not graffitied.  Removing graffiti would require expensive and disruptive rail closures which may be one reason why it is rarely done.  We see these single faced surfaces as an opportunity for features as presented above and visible at stations such as Richmond station.

Rail over introduces supporting pylons.  These also present attractive surfaces for more opportunist 'Taggers' and with 4 directional vertical spaces they will be hard to monitor and maintain. Unfortunately the record of authorities in this regard has not been encouraging, conversations of funding to support maintenance of the areas below rail have been discussed however unless this funding is guaranteed for the life of the infrastructure it will return to a 'no mans land' and fall back to groups such as CBTS to maintain it.  CBTS successfully maintains the surrounds of the current station platforms, elevated rail effectively adds 700 meters to this area, a distance we simply could not maintain.

 The station vision we’ve presented above seeks to minimise opportunities for vandalism and thus deliver benefits such as higher perceived safety and reduced graffiti removal costs.


Our vision of a reimagined Bonbeach station is one of an open, coastal themed space that is not overshadowed by infrastructure. It ensures a feeling of safety both in regards to the road and from anti-social behaviour. This theme gives way to a below ground urban oasis that provides great accessibility and freedom of moment both for commuters, beach goers, locals and shoppers.

We see many benefits and look forward, as an engaged community group, to working with stakeholders to deliver this for the community.