One can't help but feel for the City of Melbourne and their plans for Arden-Macaulay. If ever there were a redevelopment zone which has been battered and bruised by the state government, it's Arden-Macaulay. Like all development structure plans, they are dependent on the private sector playing their part and as the old adage goes, the private sector invariably wants certainty over anything else. With Arden-Macaulay there's very little if you look at the state of play with regards to public transport, the great enabler for any redevelopment zone.
A heavy focus of the Arden-Macaulay structure plan rests on the addition, post 2025, of a new Metro station at the end of present day Queensberry Street in North Melbourne. This station was proposed as part of the Melbourne Metro Tunnel project from the Bracks/Brumby era and still favoured by the current opposition ALP.
However as announced during the recent Victorian budget, the current government has walked away from the original Melbourne Metro tunnel project and stamped its own claim on new rail capacity in central Melbourne through the announcement of the Melbourne Rail Link project.
Making matters worse, the Planning Minister has waived through the section of the East-West Link project which will see the footprint of CityLink expand across the Moonee Ponds creek, when the East-West Link planning assessment committee recommended deferral while other design options were reviewed. The CityLink barrier is going to get wider.
One could argue the region's public transport infrastructure is already conducive to supporting increased densities - especially around the existing train stations at North Melbourne, Macaulay and Flemington Bridge - however the political ping-pong that has become public transport planning in this state does not provide much certainty for anyone. New projects, frequencies and routes will help the region develop quicker and likewise improve the attractiveness for private investment.
If we take the state opposition's rhetoric on face value and should they win the Victorian election in November, the original Melbourne Metro Tunnel and Arden Central station would be built at some point in the future alongside their promise to grade separate 50 level crossings.
If the current government manages to hang on, despite recent polls painting a very dire and soul-searching picture, the significant rail capacity increase through the area will be borne out of the Sunbury line being diverted through the Melbourne Rail Link and frequencies are increased on the Upfield and Craigieburn lines.
While the Arden-Macaulay Structure Plan was adopted in February 2012, what this region and many other redevelopment zones in Melbourne need is a decisive victory at the state election.
And a decisive new or re-elected state government is required to lock in major transport project plans very early in the term so the work of the private sector, public and social housing and local government sectors can begin in earnest and focus on the principles in the structure plan: regenerating the public realm, creating a culturally and socially engaged community and creating local liveable neighbourhoods for people from a diverse and inclusive range of income levels.