ONE OF THE City of Manningham’s most recognisable landmarks is about to move to a new home.
The River Peel sculpture will be relocated as part of the Fitzsimons Road Upgrade, being delivered by Major Road Projects Victoria.
The artwork is currently situated at the Fitzsimons Lane and Porter Street roundabout, which is being redeveloped to remove the roundabout and install traffic lights.
River Peel will be carefully dismantled and temporarily placed into storage before being reinstalled further along Fitzsimons Lane, close to the Yarra River crossing.
Manningham Mayor Cr Andrew Conlon described the River Peel as an “iconic local artwork signifying the unique river landscape and orcharding past of the local area of Doncaster and Templestowe”.
He said the relocation of River Peel from the roundabout to farther along Fitzsimons Lane will allow residents and visitors to continue to enjoy this sculptural piece in Manningham.
Work to remove the sculpture from its current home will begin on April 8, with the relocation expected to be completed by the middle of the year.
River Peel was created in 2001 by artists Michael Bellemo and Catriona Macleod.
It draws on the local heritage and surrounding landscape, imitating the Yarra River as it bends and turns through the area, and an apple peel to reflect the history of orchards in Doncaster and Templestowe.
MRPV has worked closely with Mr Bellemo and Ms Macleod, Manningham Council, Parks Victoria, Department of Transport, and Wurundjeri as the Registered Aboriginal Party to agree on the relocation site for River Peel.
The move will ensure the sculpture continues to be a gateway piece to Manningham on Fitzsimons Lane.
The Fitzsimons Lane Upgrade will redevelop four intersections along Fitzsimons Lane, which is a major thoroughfare connecting Melbourne’s northern suburbs with the city and eastern suburbs, and is used by more than 60,000 vehicles every day.
Major Road Projects Victoria Program Director Dipal Sorathia said the Fitzsimons Lane Upgrade has been designed to respond to the area’s growing transport needs, while also respecting the heritage of the local community.
“We’re proud we’ve been able to help find a new home for River Peel, which ensures it keeps its status as an important Manningham gateway piece for decades to come.”
He said, once completed, the road will be safer for all road users and provide drivers with faster, more reliable journeys.
The project remains a focus of strong community protest.
The large-scale removal of trees at the Main Road and Fitzsimons Lane intersection — during the February lockdown — has not sat well with many residents, who felt the timing was a smack in the face for objectors.
Three residents local to the roundabout have become alarmed at MRPV’s interaction with local Councils and the community during the design stage and early works.
Vicki Shukuroglou and members of the Johnstone family convened a well-attended meeting at the Eltham bowls Club last week to report on meetings with MRPV and to plan further protest action.
Local engineers told the meeting they had presented calculations and plans supporting their contention that the 25 per cent reductions in traffic volume (14,000 vehicles per day) resulting from the North East Link have not been factored into the 6-8 lane design, only to be told the MPV design supports the business case for the Project.
Other speakers highlighted gaps in the environmental approvals and processes.
Ms Shukuroglou called for this meeting be the beginning of a call to “Pause this Project”.
A full report of the meeting will be published in the April WD Bulletin.
MRPV said in a statement, the project is the first in a multi-billion-dollar pipeline of road upgrades in Melbourne’s north as part of Victoria’s “Big Build”.
The statement said the project is generating much-needed jobs as part of the State Government’s COVID-19 response.
MRPV remains committed to delivering the Fitzsimons Lane Upgrade by the end of 2025.