Cato Square FAQs

  • Cato Square - What and why?

  • What is Cato Square?

    Stonnington City Council is transforming the Cato Street car park in Prahran into a world-class urban park with multi-level underground car park, similar in scale and prominence to some of the world’s most famous urban squares.

    When completed in 2019, Cato Square will be almost as large as Federation Square.

     

  • Where is Cato Square?

    The site is bounded by Cato Street, Izett Street, Wattle Street and Chatham Street in Prahran.

    It is in close proximity to the Chapel Street, Commercial Road and Greville Street precincts, within walking distance of Prahran Railway Station and a number of tram routes.

     

  • Why is Council building the new Cato Square?

    With a projected increase of over 30,000 residents in Stonnington by 2036 and with the second lowest amount of open space per capita in Victoria, Cato Square will address an urgent need to increase public and accessible open space for the physical, mental and social wellbeing of all residents.

    It is also an important component of a suite of projects by Council to enhance our iconic Chapel Street precinct.

  • Why was Cato Street car park chosen as the site for the new urban park?

    The Cato Street site, which is already owned by Council, is unique for its size, location and suitability for use as public open space.

    Cato Square will create urgently needed open space in Prahran for passive recreation, events, festivals and markets and will provide over 500 parking spaces, a 20 per cent increase on the current car park, for shoppers and retailers in the surrounding Chapel Street and Greville Street precincts.

  • What will the project cost?

    The project is expected to cost $60+ million. It will be fully funded by Council over successive financial years and will use a mixture of borrowings, Council funds and open space contributions.

    This is a viable and economical option for Council. If we were to purchase a parcel of land in a similar location and undertake a project of the same scale and size, it would cost in the vicinity of $120 million. [1]

    [1] Cost Comparison

    As a point of comparison, valuation advice is that the cost of purchasing land in this precinct of an equivalent area (9,000m²) would be in excess of $70m. Assuming the same costs to develop the land as open space to the same standard $14m, this would result in a total project cost of $84m if you add the cost of developing the car park at $45m this would equate to a total project cost as a comparison of $129m. On that basis the cost of the project as proposed is in the order of 50% less than if Council was to purchase and improve the same area of land into car park and open space.

     

  • What will the new space be called?

    In the short-term, the site will be called Cato Square. During construction Council will consult with the community on what the final square should be called.

    Register for email updates or follow the Cato Square Facebook page to be informed of these opportunities. 

     

  • Construction

  • What is the construction timeframe of the project?

    Construction of Cato Square will begin on 15 January 2018.

    The expected timeline for construction is:

    • January 2018 – Construction to commence and Cato Street car park unavailable
    • By May/June 2019 – Two levels of underground car parking to come online
    • By September/October 2019 – Opening of Cato Square

     

  • Who is the builder?

    Following an extensive tender process, Kane Constructions was appointed as the building company for Cato Square in December 2017.

     

  • Will the area be open during the construction period?

    Yes, although the existing car park will be under construction the area will remain open. Council will work with builders to ensure people can safely visit businesses in the area.

    Any anticipated disruptions during construction will be communicated as early as possible via project updates, a newsletter, and directly to stakeholders where required.

  • How will noise in the area be managed?

    As with all construction sites there will be some noise associated with the works. The construction company, Kane Constructions, will submit plans for construction, environmental and road management for Council’s approval throughout the project.

     

  • What will be the construction hours?

    Construction will take place within the City of Stonnington’s permitted hours for work:

    • Monday to Friday 7am – 8pm
    • Saturday 9am – 8pm

    Some specialist work may occur outside of these times, notice of additional work will be provided to residents and traders.

     

  • What do you expect to unearth during construction?

    Cato Square will recognise that the site carries a rich history as an important part of Prahran.

    Plans of the area from the late 19th century show a number of detached houses, cottages and terraces. Council is working closely with Heritage Victoria to secure archaeological remains, including coordinating an archaeological investigation in early 2017 and monitoring of the site while construction is underway. 

     

  • How can traders be kept up to date through the construction period?

    Council is in regular communication with traders and businesses surrounding the Cato Street car park. Communication channels include the Cato Square website, hand delivered trader updates, email, trader reference group and drop in information sessions and opportunities.

    See our Information for traders and businesses page.

     

  • Design of the square

  • What will Cato Square look like?

    Cato Square will comprise nine distinctive, multifunctional spaces along with seating, lighting, public art, landscaped gardens and performance spaces. It will sit atop a new, multi-level underground car park, with approximately 500 car parking spaces servicing a wide range of local businesses.

    The new space will link to Grattan Gardens and improve walkability and connectivity to surrounding areas and shops.

    View architectural images and design concepts.

     

  • Will any changes happen to the streets around Cato Square?

    Yes, streets around the square will go through improvements and changes as part of the construction process.

    Upon completion of construction, pedestrian and traffic flow changes will be implemented on streets where they border Cato Square:

    • the section of Wattle Street bordering the square will become pedestrian only
    • the section of Cato Street bordering the square will become a shared zone, with pedestrians having priority while retaining vehicle access for deliveries to businesses
    • Chatham Street will be widened to incorporate increased on street parking and remain open to traffic flow in both directions
    • Izett Street will be widened to serve as the entry point to the new underground car park and remain open to traffic in both directions
    • Wattle Street between Cato Street and Chapel Street will become one-way east bound.
  • What are the key features of Cato Square?

    Cato Square’s key features include:

    • ·nine distinctive spaces to suit a diversity of community needs from intimate areas to larger gatherings
    • ·over 500 convenient and safe underground car parking spaces
    • central square with water feature
    • free public WiFi
    • themed green zones with extensive shading and landscaping
    • feature seating including terraced seating
    • environmentally friendly design and features
    • ability to hold events such as festivals, live performances and outdoor cinema
    • safe and improved pedestrian environment around the site
    • recognition of the site’s history
    • integrated public art.

     

  • Who is designing the new urban park?

    Australian-based, award-winning architectural firm, Lyons, was awarded the project in early 2016 following a competitive tender process.

    Lyons is one of Australia’s largest design practices, acclaimed for design excellence, innovation and sustainability across a wide range of cultural, government, residential and community-based projects.

     

  • Will the square be accessible for everyone?

    Yes, to ensure people of all ages and abilities are able to access Cato Square, it will be delivered in line with universal access principles and comply with the Disability Discrimination Act.

     

     

  • What about anti-social behaviour?

    Council has used the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design or "CPTED" approach that takes into account the relationship between the physical environment and the users of that environment. This approach illustrates Council’s strong focus on security and preventing anti-social behaviour.

    Council has engaged with a wide range of authorities, including Victoria Police, in developing the design and the project will include CCTV.

     

  • What sustainability measures will be put in place?

    Cato Square will build on Council’s long-standing commitment to the environment and implement a broad range of holistic environmental and sustainability initiatives. Energy-efficiency measures will include energy-efficient (LED) lighting, high performance thermal, building fabric and glazing. Solar PV, water and storm water capture and management, and urban ecology features will be key outcomes of the project. 

     

  • Car parking

  • What car parking will be provided?

    Cato Square will deliver over 500 safe and convenient parking spaces, an approximately 20 per cent increase on the existing Cato Street car park.

    Car park features that will improve the visitor and shopper experience include: 

    • a multi-level underground car park with high-quality finishes
    • painted and signed columns, walls and beams at entry and exit points
    • travellators and lifts to all levels to ensure universal access
    • specialty low-energy lighting
    • generous parking bays and isle widths
    • 24/7 physical security and CCTV.

     

  • Will parking be free?

    Council is working on implementing a car park management system and payment system.

    Feedback from the community and traders has indicated a need for flexible short-term parking arrangements and we will work with the car park managers to implement this.

     

  • What will happen with parking during construction?

    The Cato Street car park will be unavailable during construction.

    Council is implementing a number of strategies to link the precinct with nearby alternative parking options during construction works. See our information on alternative parking options.

    The expected construction schedule will bring the two levels of underground car parking online by May/June 2019 while work above ground continues.

     

  • Will bicycle parking be provided?

    Yes, Cato Square will have above ground parking for bicycles and Council is looking into incorporating the site into Melbourne’s bike sharing networks.

     

  • How will Cato Square be used?

  • What kind of events will take place at Cato Square?

    Cato Square’s dynamic and multifunctional space will support a diverse range of community events such as festivals, open-air markets, musical and theatrical performances and recreation activities.

    During construction Council will consult with the community on how we will shape a calendar of events to activate the area.

     

  • Will the open space be accessible to the public 24/7?

    Yes. Cato Square and the underground car park will be accessible to the public 24/7.

  • How will the retailers be chosen for Cato Square?

    Council is seeking independent advice on options for retailers for the opportunity sites in the square.

  • Consultation and staying informed

  • How is Council consulting with the community about the project?

    Council’s vision for Cato Square is the result of extensive community consultation as part of our Public Realm Strategy, Chapel reVision, Chapel Street Masterplan and Strategies for Creating Open Space.

    More recent community engagement and consultation on the project took place between February and May 2017, this included three community forums, an on-site information hub and a community survey through our digital engagement platform, Connect Stonnington. Feedback from these channels was provided to the Cato Square design team.

    Consultation will continue throughout construction. In 2018 and 2019 Council will work with the community on important aspects of how we will use Cato Square, including what the square will be named and how we will shape a calendar of events to activate the area.

    Register for email updates or follow the Cato Square Facebook page to be informed of these opportunities. 

     

  • How can I stay informed about the project?

    The best way to stay up to date is to subscribe to Cato Square email updates and check the dedicated Cato Square section on Council’s website.

    Progress will also be communicated via updates to nearby residents and businesses, Cato Square email updates, Council’s quarterly InStonnington publication, local newspapers, Facebook and Twitter.