Jewell and the Station Precinct Engagement Program

$1 billion of direct investment, thousands of jobs translating into $5 billion worth of economic stimulus over the next 3-5 years - they're the numbers being spruiked by the State Government with the announcement of the Station Precinct Engagement Program at Jewell Station yesterday.

For a video summary of the project, you can view the 7 Network's news piece here.

A map of the station locations complete with the as-yet funded Melbourne Metro line also drawn for good measure.

Like the East-West and Dandenong corridor projects, the detail with regards to the expected return on investment has not been forthcoming. In isolation the numbers look quite impressive but cynics may suggest this is the State Government seemingly attempting to divert attention away from their extremely unpopular East-West Link project so early into the election campaign. Fundamentally we consider this announcement to be a step in the right direction.

Focusing on Jewell station for a moment, the brochure on VicTrack's site depicts quite a handsome station precinct should it be developed as outlined.

This is what Jewell currently looks like from the Sydney Road side of the station.

View Larger Map

The mid-rises to the north and south of the heritage station building will not only bring more welcome apartments to this part of the Sydney Road precinct but will also provide passive security over the station.

Gone will be the current car park, replaced with an improved Upfield shared path and the retention of some of the greenery which current exists around the station. Reactivation of the heritage building gains a tick of approval as well.

The challenge, perhaps more for Moreland City Council, is to capitalise on this investment and drive development into Wilson Avenue bringing Sydney Road closer to Jewell station.

One question which remains is what could happen should at some point in the future the Government decide to grade separate the litany of level crossings along this stretch of the Upfield line?

To the immediate south of the station lie Park Street and Brunswick Road whilst Union Street frames the northern end of Jewell's platforms. Any grade separation project in this part of Brunswick would need to include those three roads plus the relocation or rebuild of the Jewell Station itself.

The Upfield line sees the worst frequencies of any rail line in Melbourne and according to the PTV's heavy rail plan released last year it would only see upgrades in frequency once the Metro Tunnel has created extra capacity on the existing Northern Loop for Craigieburn and Upfield. So that's a long way away but the requirement of the precinct changing once more should at least be placed in the moderate column of any risk assessment for developers and potential buyers.

Furthermore, factoring in future grade separations is likely to be an overarching theme for many of the 10 stations which are joining this State Government program.

Alphington, Essendon and Hampton stations feature nearby level crossings - will the State Government attempt to capture some of the value unleashed from the station precinct development to help pay for grade separations?

Here's hoping.


Martin Mankowski's picture

Very good point about the grade separations. It seems crazy that they would do all these upgrades, only to have to rip it all up at a later date to get rid of the level crossings. Surely there are some economies of scale to just do the grade separation with the upgrade now?

Secondly, as mentioned, the frequency, and therefore patronage on the Upfield Line, and to a slightly lesser extent, Sandringham Line (Hampton) are very poor to say the least. Whilst the upgrade looks visually impressive, its not gonna get more people to catch the train if they are still running at 20 min intervals in the peak and 30+ minute intervals at other times. I cant help but feel the money would be better spent on grade separations/signalling upgrades to help improve frequency.

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Martin Mankowski's picture

On a side note, the graphic they released yesterday showing the locations of the station upgrades clearly shows the Melbourne Metro route running along Swanston St! Have they abandoned the Fisherman's Bend realignment?  Or is it just another SNAFU? 

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johnproctor's picture

^ lol.

$1 billion of direct investment does not necessarily equal much return to government. if you think about a CBD block of land might sell for $50 million and have an end use development of $500 million in a single skyscraper development.

I would think this announcement is likely to return $100m-$200m to government better than a kick in the teeth and enough to pay for 1-2 grade separations somewhere but not $1 billion in the governments coffers.

also re: grade separations at these exact locations - most of them are not located at sites requiring grade separations or sites where grade separation is a high priority*. so why bring forward spending $100m ++++ to sep Brunswick Road as part of Jewell project for 3 trains per hour when there is a much greater transport need at perhaps 30-50 or more level crossings elsewhere on the network. (I've put ++++ because it might be more like $300 million to do Park, Brunswick and Union (if not Dawson) all at the same time)

also the article has a mistake - Jewell is in Moreland City Council not Moonee Valley.

* Essendon Station is near BUckley Street which is a high priority but my understanding is the 'development potential' is at the northern end carparks fronting Mount Alexander Road.

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Alastair Taylor's picture

Moonee Valley/Moreland CC error corrected.

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Alastair Taylor's picture

On Jewell and grade seps - granted Jewell won't be high on any priority list but given there are so many level crossings in this area, even small increases in frequencies from 15 minutes to 10 minute running (say) will have an impact on boom gate "down time" - simply because so many of the level crossings are next to stations.

Upfield trains stop all stations and therefore trains are not moving all that fast through level crossings - thus increasing the amount of time the boom gates are down.

Granted once again there's far greater priorities around the network (Buckley Street one of them, just ask the other Editor about that one!) but given the type of project (a trench from south of Park Street to Dawson Street) which would most likely be required to grade separate the crossings around Jewell - whether it's in 5 years or 20 - don't site (and eventually unit) buyers need to know the long-term plans for the precinct?

Given the Liberals are actually putting their money where their mouth is and the ALP have jumped on the bandwagon with their 50 level crossing policy position - grade seps are going to become increasingly a big factor in any transit-orientated development.

East-West Link and Evo aprtments: a situation we should avoid at all costs in future.

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johnproctor's picture

just checked PRoject 10000. Brunswick Road didn't make the ALP's 50 first group of level crossing...

As is often stated on forums like this - buyer beware. grade separations might be a positive for this area improving local accessibility, adding greenspace, removing level crossing bell noise and increasing train frequencies and people should purchase on the chance it does happen! or there was that article about freight on the upfield line a few weeks ago in the age. or grade separations bring new development above the tracks and overshadow adjoining developments.

who knows?

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Alastair Taylor's picture

VicTrack has appointed NeoMetro as its development partner for Jewell.


Jewell station precinct set to shine with appointment of Neometro

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The revitalisation of the Jewell Station Precinct into a vibrant and active place for commuters and the Brunswick community is one stop closer with the appointment of award-winning developer Neometro, Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder announced today.

VicTrack appointed Neometro as its development partner due to its shared vision to create a unique place that improves Jewell Station and surrounds, while reflecting the unique character of Brunswick.

"The vision for Jewell Station was to take a run-down area and totally transform it into a lively place that not only improves the commuter experience, but adds value to the local community," Mr Mulder said.

Mr Mulder said the redevelopment of the precinct would deliver a centre of vibrant residential and retail development.

"Neometro has a track record of delivering socially responsible projects, most recently at its Nine Smith Street project in Fitzroy, as well as design-led solutions," Mr Mulder said.

"Neometro has clearly embraced the community feedback that was captured through the place making process and incorporated initiatives such as cafes, art installations, active studio spaces and edible community gardens.

"Neometro was selected from a field of 22 developers and is the right partner to work with the community to reinvent this precinct. The community will continue to be involved as the plans for Jewell crystallise and begin to take shape."

Neometro director James Tutton said the goal was to revitalise the station precinct with community-led initiatives that would draw people to the area.

"We aim to redefine what success means in business – for us, success is about great commercial, social, community and environmental outcomes. This is about creating a new station precinct that is beautiful, active, safe and inspiring," Mr Tutton said.

Mr Mulder said that the Victorian Coalition Government had created the Station Precinct Enhancement Program, which is being delivered by VicTrack, specifically to revitalise station precincts without taxpayers footing the bill.

"Our stations are vital community infrastructure and there are so many opportunities right across the network to enliven them through commercial and residential development, which also funds improvements to the public transport infrastructure," Mr Mulder said.

"All up, we have a pipeline of around a billion dollars of redevelopments and station improvement works as potential projects that are expected to create more than 3,000 direct project delivery jobs and more than 800 commercial and retail jobs after project completion."

Any development at Jewell will need to be commercially feasible and if it proceeds, would only involve changes to the station precinct, not the frequency or nature of rail services.

VicTrack is a State rail business that supports Victoria's public transport without relying on government funding. Its core roles are to deliver public transport telecommunications and manage railway land not used for rail services.

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