Suburban Rail Loop in focus: Clayton & the Monash NEIC

Suburban Rail Loop in focus: Clayton & the Monash NEIC
Suburban Rail Loop in focus: Clayton & the Monash NEIC

Located just over the halfway point if a crow were to fly between Melbourne's CBD and Dandenong, Clayton station is set to be the major interchange for the Suburban Rail Loop with the Pakenham and Cranbourne metro lines as well as Gippsland V/Line services.

The state government dubbed Clayton, Broadmeadows and Sunshine stations as 'super-hubs' in the context of the Suburban Rail Loop because each of the three stations would see metro and V/Line services stop to allow cross-town interchanges on the new line.  Clayton for Gippsland V/Line services, Broadmeadows for Albury and Shepparton V/Line services and Sunshine for services on the big three regional trunks to Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo.

Monash University's original and primary campus is located approximately 1-1.5 km north of the existing Clayton station and all the maps published to date suggest there will be a station at or located adjacent to Monash University.  

Monash University and the wider employment precinct located just north of Clayton station has for the past few years seen an emphasis on future structure planning, having been deemed a National Employment and Innovation Cluster (NEIC) by the Victorian Planning Authority.  

The Monah NEIC, with the University as its key anchor tenant, is the largest concentration jobs outside the Melbourne CBD and according to VPA data, the region already contributes $9.4 billion to the Victorian economy per annum.

Suburban Rail Loop in focus: Clayton & the Monash NEIC
Clayton has seen significant public investment in the past few years. Image: levelcrossings.vic.gov.au

Unlike Cheltenham, Glen Waverley and Box Hill, there's not a lot of existing projects we're tracking on the Urban database along the phase 1 alignment of the Suburban Rail Loop.  There have been notable exceptions in the past with some of the higher density buildings developed at Jackson Green near Centre Road and M-City projects on the Princes Highway featuring prominently in the database and in editorial.

On the VPA website, the status of the framework plan for the Monash NEIC appears to have stalled, showing the plan is still in a finalisation phase with an estimated completion of Mid-2018.  Perhaps, that might be easy to explain: the Suburban Rail Loop election policy was announced in 2018 and it naturally will affect the transport planning for the precinct.

The draft framework plan developed by the VPA was published in 2017 and it makes mention of working with the City of Monash to develop a precinct plan for Clayton within the NEIC.  That precinct plan has been developed by the City of Monash in collaboration with TRACT Consultants and a recent community consultation period was completed in September 2019.

The draft precinct plan for Clayton emphasises expanding medical and research industry activities - with the ever-present Monash Medical Centre and new Children's hospital as anchors - and the draft precinct plan sees opportunities for developing other commercial, retail and mixed-use residential sites along the Clayton Road spine.  One map in the draft depicts building heights peaking near 10 levels - in particular, north of Clayton Station - and notes the liberal use of the residential growth zone already in force in the area.

Suburban Rail Loop in focus: Clayton & the Monash NEIC
Major transport routes in the context of the Clayton precinct plan. Image: TRACT Consultants/City of Monash

VPA's Monash NEIC draft framework plan almost singles out other activity centres that will see precinct plans: Huntingdale, Springvale and Sandown Park which also involves the neighbouring councils of Greater Dandenong and Kingston.

Huntingdale's draft precinct plan was devised by SJB Urban and like Clayton's precinct plan, wrapped up a community consultation period in September 2019.

Overall however, we'll have to wait to see how the VPA's framework plan may change with the addition of the Suburban Rail Loop now thrown into the mix.  Depending on what the City of Monash ultimately adopts, all the draft plans point to more intensive employment, retail and residential uses.

The existing pipeline of projects on the Urban database in the Clayton & Monash University areas is limited to either lower-rise apartment buildings, townhouses or academic buildings - with the notable exceptions mentioned earlier.  

Previous stop: Cheltenham

Next stop: Glen Waverley.

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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Suburban Rail Loop

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