Melbourne’s CBD – and its famous laneways – have been deprived of office workers, shoppers and tourists since the pandemic started. It’s been a gut punch to the city’s economy.

But as active Covid-19 case numbers in Victoria continue to drop and we inch closer to reopening, the City of Melbourne and the Victorian government are now turning their attention towards getting people back to the CBD.

So they’ve instituted the Flash Forward project, part of the $500 million Working for Victoria initiative, which will see around 40 of Melbourne’s most iconic laneways receive art and lighting installations. It’s quite literally a glow-up – many of our CBD streets will be bathed in neon lights, visual projections and atmospheric soundscapes. It’s the largest revitalisation of the CBD’s laneways in Melbourne’s history.

“Melbourne’s laneway culture is internationally renowned and this investment will make our city even more vibrant, more welcoming and more attractive,” said Lord Mayor Sally Capp in a media release.

“The cultural and gastronomical experiences in our city laneways are a huge part of what makes Melbourne great. We want to enhance dozens of laneways across the CBD to showcase the unique businesses and attractions that are on offer here.”

The benefits of the project are two-fold: it should bring people back to the CBD in high numbers (as soon it’s safe to do so), and it will provide jobs for more than 150 people too.

Expect a number of “Little” streets (such as Little Bourke and Little Collins) to benefit, alongside lesser-known laneways such as Kirks and Heffernan Lanes.