Long live Arden-Macaulay?

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.

Maps from the City of Melbourne Arden-Macaulay Structure Plan

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.

Maps from the City of Melbourne Arden-Macaulay Structure Plan

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.


Melbman's picture

Overall, whatever party wins the area will not really benefit from.

Yes, the ALP says it will build the Metro Rail Tunnel on its originally planned route, but who knows how long it will take to be in a position to build it. Its promised 50 rail crossing removal program will be a capital intensive exercise, which will limit is ability to bring about this tunnel project. The waiting game will not help either.

It also needs an alternative to the East-West road, which was in its plans until the Libs proposed building it and then suddenly changed its course. It still has no effective alternative for a 2nd river crossing, so until it comes out with something, who knows how it will justify any project it proposes. A truck on-ramp to the Westgate is not a solution.

The Libs may be seen as being out of touch in its projects, but at least I can see something of a viable plan in place and is in the budget to actually get delivered, not just a glossy brochure like the former govt had.

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David Wardlaw's picture

Unlike Fisherman's Bend the Arden Macaulay area is already well serviced with trains and trams direct into the city and already benefits from being close to the Racecourse Road entry/exit point of Citylink.

With City North Structure plan now having been adopted, it is simply a matter of time before C190 is approved. Whilst it is a shame that East-West link part B will take up some of the land to the west of the existing Citylink there are still endless possibilities of making Arden Macaulay the standout regeneration area of Melbourne. North Melbourne and Kensington have countless heritage period buildings and overly wide residential street which are unique to central Melbourne. New cafes such as Auction Rooms and other food and retail offering shows signs of this area being the next "get in before its too cool" area.

All that said, the Government needs to stick to a clear direction and get things going. The Arden Macaulay Structure Plan has been kicking around for 6 years. It should have been finalised last year with adoption of new planning scheme which has been postponed for all sorts of political reasons.

I for one look forward to seeing this area become a truly integrated sustainable mixed use landmark regeneration area!

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Riccardo's picture

Disagree, having lived in the area. It is far too remote from the Hoddle Grid and is not plausible against egate, even fisho as places awaiting major redevelopment. And Macaulay station is not a plausible transport asset with train frequencies of 3/h. Egate and even fisho will have large slabs of land, free rein for developers, this area will be a sorry patchwork without muscular Sydney style plans and powers. In some ways it does parallel Green Square, but without the underground station and massive pressure on land and a against nimbys, no chance.

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Riccardo's picture

That Fisho is apparently Guy's plaything gives me no confidence in how the rail decisions are being made, but that Arden is MCC's plaything does not give me confidence in the alternative proposal.

The only two NEW stations in the greater CBD I can see need to be built right now would be the Domain and Parkville stations, and ideally then they would be routed straight down Royal Pde and Elizabeth st to Melb Cent, then down Swanston to FSS and Domain. This would be the Sandringham to Upfield line, with a new spur to Melbourne Airport, not a premium service but a practical one.

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johnproctor's picture

whichever version of the inner city tunnel gets built there are additional trains on the Upfield line for both MacAulay and Flemington Bridge stations to give much better service to the Arden precinct.

Excluding the Arden station if you reopened the old northern entrance at North Melbourne you'd have a train station entry about every 1km up the Moonee Ponds Creek beside Arden with the 800m catchments overlapping. This is a significantly better level of service than say the New Quay area of Docklands and even the ANZ office with 8000 staff in Docklands is nearly 800m door to door to the nearest Southern Cross Station entry (obviously with trams along Collins as a shuttle).

I think Arden is the most ready of any of the inner city renewal precincts. E-Gate is still moving tenants off the land and will probably have contamination issues. Only small parts of Fishermans Bend are near the 109 and 96 and those areas are as affected by hte elevated West Gate Freeway as Arden is by the Elevated Citylink Western Section. There are 3 tram routes (55, 57, 59) that run in close proximity to the northern edges of the precinct. There is the moonee ponds creek walking/bike path and Arden Street Oval and another little park in there...

Close to Errol Street, Racecourse Road and MacAulay Road Kensington Shops.

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Riccardo's picture

But as you have said elsewhere Jpro, Melbourne isn't Sydney and the market pressure is just not there to support the marginal brownfields precincts. I think if they have thrown their lot in with Fisho, then that is the place to be for the next while.

As for Macaulay, you are joking, aren't you? The 'hope' that the Upfield line might get more trains once the tunnel is built is just that, hope. Not what urban plans are made of.

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