Suburban Rail Loop in focus: Box Hill

Suburban Rail Loop in focus: Box Hill
Suburban Rail Loop in focus: Box Hill

Box Hill has been designated as the northern terminus for phase 1 on the Suburban rail loop and it just so happens to be the one middle-ring suburb of Melbourne that has seen, and will likely continue to see some of the highest concentration of new development over time.

Putting aside the Suburban rail loop, the existing public transport infrastructure in Box Hill is conducive to supporting a greater amount of high-density residential, commercial/office and retail uses.

The Belgrave/Lilydale lines, coupled with short-running services to Blackburn - two stations east of Box Hill - provide some of the best off-peak frequencies of any railway line in Melbourne.  Peak services are enhanced by the third track built across the 60s and 70s between Box Hill and Burnley that allows extra express peak trains to flow into the city in the morning and out of the city in the afternoon. 

The bus interchange at Box Hill Central, the Vicinity-owned shopping centre sitting atop Box Hill Station, while in need of an upgrade, also supports a very large amount of bus routes creates a large mesh of road-based public transport routes feeding into Box Hill from all directions.

Terminating the first phase of the Suburban rail loop in Box Hill will be the icing on the cake for Whitehorse council which has for a number of years been keen to see Box Hill 'grow up' and attract new employment and residential-related investment for the region. and our earlier website moniker has been publishing since March 2013 and projects that were at some stage in the pipeline and have now been completed over the past 6 years are still visible on the database.  The map above has nearly 20 completed buildings plus around since 2013 and the map above has almost 20 completed projects plus another 30 odd pipeline projects.

Until 2018/2019, Box Hill's development was guided by a structure plan adopted back in June 2007 and the City of Whitehorse is currently reviewing it.  In May 2019, the council released its analysis and options report for community consultation, the feedback period closed in August 2019.

Last month the Fin Review reported on Vicinity's completion of a masterplan to reconfigure two existing sites at Box Hill Central.  The report said the redevelopment could potentially deliver 350,000 square metres across seven new towers, creating close to $2 billion in developed real estate.

SGS Economics and Planning drew on Victoria in Future data to produce forecasts for the Box Hill Activity Centre and suggest that between 2016 and 2036 the population of Box Hill will increase by 8,400-10,100 people creating a need for between 4,200 and 5,000 new dwellings.

On the employment front, the region is forecast to see an increase of 8,400-11,000 new jobs in the area between 2016 and 2036.  Overall, additional employment floor space demand is forecast set to be in the range of 266,000 and 346,000 square metres.

Suburban Rail Loop in focus: Box Hill
East Central Tower, Box Hill

For the Suburban rail loop, having a good quality interchange at Box Hill will be paramount - and it's an opportunity to create a better bus and rail interchange over and above what currently exists - not just to cater for transferring passengers but over the long term, Box hill and the wider south-east will be connected to the north-western and northern suburbs through the second phase of the gargantuan rail project.

The State Government is reported to have said the business case for the Suburban rail loop will be released in 2020 but a picture of the type of system that might emerge is becoming clearer.  

Comparisons to the Melbourne metro Tunnel project appear to be moot now the Premier and Minister for Transport Infrastructure have announced the system will be operationally-independent and have smaller trains running on higher frequencies.

One component of any railway project on this scale that hasn't been discussed in this series of articles that is somewhat critical - from a planning and employment perspective as well as an operational perspective - is the location of the maintenance depot and place where the trains go to sleep at night.  Fundamentally it is a component that would be classed as industrial development in the property world however your guess is as good as anyone else's on where it will be situated.

Previous stop: Burwood.

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.


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