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Future Conscious Melbourne
Future Conscious Melbourne

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Major future developments for liveability leading Melbourne

Melbourne is the fastest-growing city not just in Australia, but in the developed world. It’s “Most liveable city” status has been overthrown by Vienna for a second time after Melbourne held the title for a record 7 years straight. We have a number of new and exciting developments up our sleeve to reclaim the top spot, but will they push us in the right direction?

Update: Infrastructure Australia has officially listed the environmental concerns caused by Climate Change as a top priority (finally!). Mainly relevant to rising sea levels, water security and waste management, it will be interesting to see how Melbourne adapts.

Here are some of the projects Melbourne has underway:

The Metro Tunnel – Underway

Proposed budget: $11 billion

One of the biggest developments currently underway is the Metro Tunnel. The plan includes 5 new underground stations and 9kms of twin tunnels to move 504,000 more passengers across the network in peak periods. It will cut straight through the underbelly of the CBD, from the Shrine through to North Melbourne. While the main idea is to shave time off travel for commuters, it will also ease the stress of the peak out city-loop bottleneck offering alternative routes around the CBD for people heading to and from the City.

Update: there are some enormous holes throughout the CBD at the moment thanks to the Metro tunnel making some headway.

Queen Victoria Market Upgrade – Underway

Proposed Budget: $250 million

The City of Melbourne has decided to put some money into sharpening up a key landmark in the fast-developing North side of the city, set for completion by 2024. The development will see Queen plaza get more trees, more shade and more seating to create a pedestrian-friendly area. While the Munro site plan (corner of Queen and Therry streets) includes a large childcare facility, community centre and kitchen, as well as 500 underground carparks for market customers. In addition, improved safety and amenities, trader storage, centralised waste and recycling facilities will be incorporated into the general market infrastructure.

Update: the Munro site is well and truly underway, with the carpark on track to open by 2021. However, the recent works on the site have uncovered Melbourne’s first major Cemetery, which means a series of plaques and statues in the proposed Market Square green garden have been added to the design. Despite the issues some may have at attending the children and community centre built on top of a Cemetery, Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Sally Capp insists they’re investing $70 million into community facilities. Who knows, maybe the ghosts will appreciate it too.

Queen Victoria Market

Pedestrianisation of the CBD – Early development stage

Proposed budget: $150 million

Melbourne City Council is pushing forward with Elizabeth street’s 6-year redevelopment. The plan includes replacing traffic from the La Trobe and Little Lonsdale streets, Little Bourke and Bourke street with footpaths, bike lanes, street furniture and al fresco dining. While the plan is aimed at making it safer for pedestrians, and reduce pollution, the road closures throughout the development and, obviously, afterwards will cause huge disruptions to city traffic. However, major cities throughout the rest of the world are way ahead of Australia when it comes to reducing car emissions, and have a varying array of restrictions of CBD driving. Are we just finally catching up?

Urban Forest Strategy – Underway

The City of Melbourne is taking environmental action and redesigning the city’s landscape to incorporate far more trees and urban parks. There are a number of exciting projects going on around to bring this idea to life, including huge tree-planting projects that plan to increase the canopy cover in the CBD from 22 per cent to 40 per cent by 2040. The entire plan aims to adapt the city to Climate Change, create healthier ecosystems and become a water-sensitive community. There are also plans to improve vegetation health, soil moisture, and biodiversity throughout the city. There are ways you can get involved in this project here.

City of Melbourne Urban Forest concept

Greening the WestUnderway

The ‘Green the West’ initiative is a project encouraging any form of green throughout Melbourne’s Western suburbs, encompassing anything from pot-plants and car-parks to roofs and water-ways. The initiative includes a number of smaller projects to help achieve their overall goal of making Melbourne’s west a more liveable and healthy place. Some of their projects include Greening the Pipeline, which aims to rejuvenate 27 kilometres of sewer from Millers Road in Brooklyn to the Western Treatment Plant in Werribee. As well as the One Million Trees  project, which, as the name suggests, aims to plant one million trees across the city – currently focussing on 30 thousand in the Wyndham region.

Monash Freeway Upgrade – Underway

Proposed budget: $761 million

The Monash Freeway Upgrade will allow for an extra 2,000 vehicles per hour and reduce peak-hour journeys by up to 20 minutes. The project comes in two stages and includes adding a total of around 66km of extra lanes to different areas of the freeway, as well as various technology upgrades that will help manage traffic flow and incidents. The first stage was completed in 2018 and included 30km of new lanes between the EastLink and the South Gippsland Freeway, and then on to Clyde Road in Berwick. Stage two is currently underway, with 36km of extra lanes along places like Warrigal Road and Eastlink outbound, Eastlink to Springvale inbound and Clyde Road to Cardinia Road in both directions.

North East Link Toll Road – Early development stage

Proposed budget: $16 billion

The most expensive transport project in the state’s history will cost around $15.8 billion. It’s a plan to connect Melbourne’s freeway network between the north-east M80 Ring Road and the Eastern Freeway. The project will cut travel times by up to 35 minutes, take 15,000 trucks off local roads each day, deliver more than 25km of new walking and cycling paths and create more than 10,000 Victorian jobs. It includes Victoria’s longest tunnel, stretching 6km underground to protect homes and vegetation. Due to commence construction in early 2020 however, this timeline is subject to planning approvals.
Registrations are now open for local small businesses to express their interest in helping to build North East Link

Keep updated with the planning timeline.

Airport Rail Link Early Development stage

Proposed budget: $10 billion

The Melbourne Airport Rail has been given the green light by the Victorian Government now that the Sunshine route has been selected. The service will run every 10 minutes through the new Metro Tunnel and take less than 30 minutes to-and-from Melbourne’s city centre. The whole project plans to reduce congestion when driving to and from the airport and make it much easier to access for both metro and regional passengers. Construction is estimated to take around 9 years, and, subject to construction approvals, set to commence in 2022. A major benefit of this project going ahead is the opportunity of future growth it unlocks, such as the Suburban Rail Loop.

Map of Metro Rail Loop

Suburban rail loop map

Suburban Rail Loop – Early Development stage

Proposed budget: $50-100 billion

The Suburban Rail loop is on the immediate agenda for the Victorian Government. It spans a 90km circled line, with 12 new potential underground stations and will allow for 400,000 passengers per day. The loop would begin in Cheltenham, and head around the CBD through Glen Waverley, Doncaster and Bundoora, up to Broadmeadows, stopping in at Tullamarine and then terminating in Werribee.

West Gate Tunnel – Underway

Proposed budget: $5.5 billion, actual: $6.7 billion

This project involves building four more lanes on the West Gate Freeway, twin tunnels under Yarraville and a new bridge over the Maribyrnong River. It also includes 14km of new and upgraded walking and cycling paths between Werribee and the city. The overall plan is to make travel faster, more consistent, create a more efficient freight route to the Port of Melbourne. The whole project will be completed in 2022.

Update: the West Gate tunnel is raising some serious concerns at the moment. The soil has been labelled contaminated by industrial chemical PFAS (which people claim the Government should have foreseen the risk) and so the entire project has been put on hold. A dispute about who’s liable for the contaminated soil has to lead to 137 workers being laid off by CPB Contractors and John Holland (the builders of the project). They have also claimed a force majeure (unforeseen circumstances that make the contract impossible to full-fill) and have announced their intent to pull of the contract. If the builders are successful in pulling out of the contract, it’s bad news for the funding as they plan on writing up a new one which would bill work on an ongoing basis – potentially seriously raising costs. To compensate for the new costs, Transurban (tolling company) has added a 10-year extension on their City-link toll deal, with prices set to increase by 4.25% annually. Can’t wait.

High-Speed Train to Geelong – Early Development stage

The proposed plan for the High-Speed rail between Melbourne and Geelong talks about halving the time between the two. Investigators are currently looking at the best way to implement it in a way that will maximise the benefits of a future Melbourne Airport Link. This includes the investigation of new, fast electric regional trains. At the moment $100 million is being invested in detailed design and planning, which is due to be considered in 2020.

Defence Site in Maribyrnong –  Ideas and planning stage

At 127.8 hectares, the old Defence site in Maribyrnong is the biggest parcel of land ever up for sale in Metropolitan Melbourne. While there aren’t any immediate projects happening, the anticipation of what could be is exciting. However, there are a few things any future developments need to consider what may be causing some hesitations for possible purchasers. Due to the Department of Defence’s historical use of the site, land contamination, transport access, heritage and the Maribyrnong River interface are relatively large factors to consider. The Victorian Planning Authority is collaborating with the Maribyrnong City Council, Transport for Victoria and other state and local government partners, and the community to plan the site’s future.

There are many, other projects currently underway or in early stages of development throughout Melbourne. For more details into the planning and process updates – as well as how they will affect you, head to Infrastructure Victoria. The state government’s website Victoria’s Big Build also provides updates on all the projects currently underway. 

You may also like our related article on Mega-cities and what Melbourne can learn from them

In Episode 1 of blueprint we explore how Melbourne came to look the way it does now.

Words by Emily Hatty for blueprint