Arden, Sunshine and Box Hill: three Melbourne suburbs to watch

Arden, Sunshine and Box Hill: three Melbourne suburbs to watch
Arden, Sunshine and Box Hill: three Melbourne suburbs to watch


The Victorian Government, freshly re-elected a year ago for another term, has a very large program of public transport projects that will impact on various suburban centres over the next few decades. 

Arden, Sunshine and Box Hill are three suburbs developers, property buyers and renters should keep an eye on.

The redevelopment of Arden will centre around a public transport project already under construction (Melbourne Metro) and Sunshine and Box Hill, based on publicly available information, will attract intense focus from projects that have their respective business cases underway (Melbourne Airport rail Link and the Suburban Rail Loop).

The Melbourne Metro project that was initiated during the first term has recently entered the primary tunneling phase with two of four tunnel boring machines now working their way westward under the city.  The launching pad for the first two TBMs is located at the site of the future North Melbourne (née Arden) station, an area where the state government is a major landholder and one the state government has expressed an interest in 'doing things differently'.

In 2018 the Victorian Planning Authority released the Arden Vision which outlines how the "Victorian Government and the city of Melbourne are committed to preparing in partnership land use and transport planning frameworks to coordinate and guide planning to 2050".

According to the vision document, North Melbourne Station will open in 2025 and major development of the land surrounding the new station will begin shortly thereafter.

Arden, Sunshine and Box Hill: three Melbourne suburbs to watch
the Arden Vision. Image

Apart from the ongoing level crossing removal program, all other major public transport projects that are likely to leave an impact on land surrounding new stations are in various stages of planning and design.

Extending the Frankston railway line to Baxter has a business case under development expected to be completed by 2019.  Construction to duplicate the Cranbourne line will begin in 2021 with completion scheduled for 2023; the state government has also said this project is required before work can get underway to extend the Cranbourne line to Clyde.

The Melbourne Airport rail Link, the Suburban Rail Loop, the Western Rail Plan and initiatives to speed up trains to Geelong and Ballarat are four inter-related projects that have all been appropriated funds from the state budget that will see reference designs and business cases completed over the next 12-18 months.

All railways lead to Sunshine

We've said it before, and we're saying it again - cast your gaze westward to Sunshine.  Excluding central Melbourne, no other suburb in metropolitan Melbourne will see as much intensive new rail infrastructure and services in the foreseeable future.

The Regional Rail Link project from a decade ago routed connections to Victoria's second, third and fourth-largest cities through Sunshine and the Western Rail Plan looks set to expand on regional and metropolitan rail separation possibly through the quadruplication and (partial) electrification of railways between Sunshine and Deer Park, Deer Park to Wyndham Vale and Deer Park to Melton.

The Melbourne Airport rail Link had its route confirmed via Sunshine and what's known as the 'Albion corridor' (the stretch of railway used primarily for freight between Albion station and Broadmeadows station) and Sunshine likewise appears on maps for the Suburban Rail Loop.

If the Melbourne Airport rail Link, Suburban Rail Loop, Western Rail Plan and higher-speed trains to Geelong and Ballarat proceed - whether all at the same time or in a sequential fashion - Sunshine will have the best suburban connectivity to other parts of the metropolitan area and regional Victoria.

Box Hill is already flying high

Box Hill has always garnered our interest.  The railway lines that run through Box Hill on their way to the city are unlike other major corridors like Dandenong and Sunshine because there will be minimal greenfields development within the Lilydale and Belgrave branch catchments.

In short, the only population growth throughout the whole eastern corridor can only be catered for through higher-density development.  And the numbers speak for themselves.

Box Hill has at least 35 projects contained within a 1 square kilometre grid centred around the Box Hill Station and Box Hill Central shopping centre.  Further up the line at Ringwood, where both Lilydale and Belgrave lines converge to provide a very high frequency of service all the way through the inner and middle rings of eastern Melbourne, has at least 19 high-density projects in the pipeline.

The Victorian Premier has already publicly announced the Suburban Rail Loop, despite its business case and reference design currently underway, will be split in two phases through the east and north of the metropolitan area.  The first phase will run from Cheltenham on the Frankston line to Box Hill, servicing Clayton, Monash University and employment precinct, Glen Waverley and Deakin University located just south of Box Hill.

The second phase of the Suburban Rail Loop extending from Box Hill to Tullamarine Airport would then create a major node, accessible to and from the north, south, east and west via heavy rail, in an area that already has a large concentration of jobs and retail activity and an area that already supports major increases in residential density.

We'll be watching the release of each public transport business case with great interest.

Lead image credit:

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor

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

Melbourne Airport Rail Link Suburban Rail Loop Melbourne Melbourne Metro


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