Merri River Planning Project
For further information on the Merri River Parklands Framework and South of Merri Precinct Plan, please contact Jenny Emeny, Open Space Planner: email@example.com
For further information on the Merri River Landscaping Guidelines and how they apply to revegetation projects along the River, please contact Lauren Schneider, Coordinator of Natural Environment and Sustainability: LSchneider@warrnambool.vic.gov.au
The Merri River is a significant natural feature of Warrnambool, providing environmental, social, recreation and economic benefits to the City.
It is also an important feature of the cultural landscape of the Eastern Maar people, who have an ongoing connection to the river.
In August 2020, a three part planning project was adopted by Warrnambool City Council that recognises the significant role of the Merri River corridor in Warrnambool’s future open space network.
Three documents were produced to support the parklands along the Merri River becoming a connected open space and green corridor that supports the movement of both people and wildlife. They also aim to recognise the natural and cultural values of the waterway.
The three parts of the project are the Merri River Parklands Framework, South of Merri Open Space Precinct Plan, and Merri River Landscaping Guidelines.
Merri River Parklands Framework
The Merri River Parklands Framework establishes an overarching policy framework to support the development of connected parklands along the Merri River. It applies to the main stem of the Merri River and its corridor within the municipality of Warrnambool, from Woodford to Stingray Bay.
The vision of the Merri River Parklands Framework is:
‘The Merri River corridor will form a series of connected and accessible parklands and trails through Warrnambool, that support the long term health of the river, as well as active river and riverside transport, nature-based recreation and events, and wildlife movement.’
South of Merri Open Space Precinct Plan
The South of Merri Open Space Precinct Plan is a key strategic document that helps implement the Merri River Parklands Framework. It also fulfills a recommendation of the Warrnambool Open Space Strategy.
The Precinct Plan aims to improve access and connections between seven parks adjoining the south side of the Merri River between St James Park and Manuka Drive in Warrnambool. It provides recommendations that help restore, recognise, connect, and activate this important riverside corridor.
The plan provides for improved connections between future open space corridors to the North, and established communities to the South. The precinct also represents an important connection point between the existing Russell’s Creek Corridor, and the future trails north of the Merri River as outlined in the North of Merri Structure Plan.
Key recommendations include restoration of the wetland at Woodend Road Reserve, connected riverside trails, recognition of cultural values, and activation of the riverside parks, include a community space at Queens Road Reserve.
Merri River Landscaping Guidelines
The Merri River Landscaping Guidelines aim to ensure a consistent and strategic approach to revegetation and landscaping along the Merri River, ensuring that good ecological and social outcomes are achieved. They assist in implementing the Merri River Parklands Framework, South of Merri Open Space Precinct Plan, and Green Warrnambool Plan.
The guidelines recognise that different sections of river and different contexts within a section of river require different revegetation approaches, all of which assist in building a connected, accessible and restored river corridor. The guidelines identify different character zones along the length of the Merri River, with associated recommendations for planting. Recommendations include identification of key view lines, treatment for areas where there are walking trails, and appropriate species for planting according to the associated natural and built environment.
The landscaping guidelines are to be considered alongside Councils revegetation policy and guidelines.