Alliance of Melbourne's West institutions publishes new economic development and jobs strategy: Sunshine, daring to be great

Alliance of Melbourne's West institutions publishes new economic development and jobs strategy: Sunshine, daring to be great
Alliance of Melbourne's West institutions publishes new economic development and jobs strategy: Sunshine, daring to be great

A not-for-profit alliance of institutions local to Melbourne's west, chaired by former Victorian Premier Steve Bracks, has produced a paper to outline its thinking on how economic growth and job development should be supercharged off the back of the significant public investment heading into the region over the next two decades.

The West of Melbourne Economic Development Alliance (WoMEDA) board comprises representatives from Victoria University, Western Bulldogs Football Club, Wyndham City Council, Western Health, City West Water, Maribyrnong City Council, John Holland, Scalzo Foods and Lead West.

The paper notes the State Government has made crucial decisions that will shape Sunshine's future through the establishment of a transport 'super-hub' at Sunshine, declaring Sunshine as a Priority Precinct for investment and development and enhancing suburban railways through Sunshine.

The Sunshine super-hub concept relates to State Government initiatives that are set to run through Sunshine, such as the Melbourne Airport Rail Link, Suburban Rail Loop and Western Rail Plan (electrification of Melton and Wyndham Vale railway lines).

Sunshine: daring to be great sets out WoMEDA's aspirations for the area by attracting more public and private investment and channelling it into four key anchor institutions: a medical complex, a university/polytechnic complex, a court/justice complex and transport/retail complex.

The paper notes each of the four anchor institutions will need to grow to support a target of 50,000 new jobs to Sunshine and the immediate area by 2036 and outlines what success will look like in 6 different ways.  

  1. An attractive precinct to work and play: A new Town Square near Brimbank's Council offices, transforming Hampshire Road into a car-free street, park and tree cover extended throughout the precinct and the development of new affordable housing.
  2. A vibrant economy: plenty of local jobs: Success in this aspect would include more public administration and justice jobs; more healthy sector, business services and education jobs; and attracting airport-oriented employment jobs.
  3. Great Transport Access: Fast train links to the city via the Melbourne Airport Rail Link, enhanced connectivity to the west and south west through the electrification and service improvements to Melton and Wyndham Vale, an expanded tram network to Deer Park, Altona and Moonee Ponds and a clearing articulated active transport strategy.
  4. Strong Education Infrastructure: Enhanced investments to Victoria University and Victoria University Polytechnic, VU Polytechnic integrated into the state's overall advanced manufacturing strategy, deeper university engagement at Sunshine Hospital and a high-performing high school to be set up in the region.
  5. Adequate leisure opportunities: Protect Sunshine's multi-cultural restaurant precinct, support nearby sports and entertainment facilities, attract a branch of the National Gallery of Victoria and further upgrades to the Sunshine Leisure Centre and Cinema/entertainment complex. 
  6. Attractive to investors: State and councils will need to provide planning clarity and certainty, highlight clear opportunities for growth and deliver promised infrastructure.
Alliance of Melbourne's West institutions publishes new economic development and jobs strategy: Sunshine, daring to be great
Spotlight on the Sunshine Triangle

The core of Sunshine, with the station precinct at heart, in WoMEDA's eyes would see increased mixed-use residential, commercial and retail uses concentrated in higher-densities.

The paper notes the population of the West of Melbourne is expected to almost double over 20 years from 686,000 to 1.5 million, giving the region a similar population to the entirety of Adelaide.

"A total of 267,761 extra people in the West will be looking for jobs in sixteen years from now.  This is about 60% added to the current workforce of 484,000." 

The paper furthermore notes 230,000 people commute out of the West every day for work and to limit commuting the entire West of Melbourne region needs between 138,000 and 317,000 extra jobs.

Health and care sectors are naturally a focus for the paper, as is the case in many parts of the country, it is one industry sector that is experiencing very fast employment growth.   

"The health and care sectors will generate about one job in three and clear it has to be a Principal focus of job creation in the West."

WoMEDA would also like to see the existing Magistrates court precinct expanded dramatically into a wider legal services hub to cater to the expected professional, scientific and technical services to be located in the region as well as catering for enhanced public administration and safety.

The alliance is very keen to get the jump on other precincts around the metro area by setting itself up as a spillover precinct for airport-related jobs.  The paper draws a very tight correlation between Tullamarine Airport expansion and the building of the Melbourne Airport Rail Link.

"Tullamarine Airport is planned to undergo very rapid expansion. Employment within the airport precinct is projected to increase by 14,000 to 35,000 jobs by 2038 if a third runway is built.  The adjacent business parts are likely to add a further 7,000.  Nearly 70% of workers live locally and if Sunshine captures just 5% [of the expected jobs increase], it increases local employment by 1,000 jobs."  

On top of developing more affordable housing in central Sunshine, the paper also notes that Braybrook's current public and social housing stock should also be developed and expanded over time.

Click here to read the 'Sunshine: daring to be great' paper.

Lead image credit: Wikipedia

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor is a co-founder of Urban.com.au. Now a freelance writer, Alastair focuses on the intersection of public transport, public policy and related impacts on medium and high-density development.

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