What's happening in the suburbs the Suburban Rail Loop might link?

What's happening in the suburbs the Suburban Rail Loop might link?
What's happening in the suburbs the Suburban Rail Loop might link?

When the Andrews government delivered its bombshell last week, it has set off an enormous discussion across multiple platforms.

Will the Suburban Rail Loop (SRL) be automated?  How big will the train fleet be?  Is $50 billion too much to pay?  What about other priorities for public transport?  All those questions, and more, I've seen posed across all forms of media and internet platform.  All of them relevant too.

One of my first thoughts was how much development will occur in station precincts.  And more broadly, how might a property value uplift levy or some other form of tax reform in the stamp duty & land tax space help pay for the line?

It's fundamentally the same question for Melbourne Metro 2. infrastructure Victoria's analysis of the preliminary costs and benefits show, if you view just the headline numbers, a poor outcome. 

But that outcome comes with an asterisk which pointed out the value redeveloping Fishermans Bends' over multiple decades was not taken into account because there were modeling limitations.

As noted in the limitations of this study, the land use impacts of major transport projects have not been assessed in this report.  This is particularly relevant for Melbourne Metro 2 which will significantly enhance the accessibility of Fishermans Bend major urban renewal area and make the development more attractive.  Urban consolidation facilitated by the Melbourne Metro 2 in the Fishermans Bend area will in turn contribute to increased agglomeration benefits arising from cluster effects as well as move to more productive jobs.

Urban Consolidation facilitated by Melbourne Metro 2 in the Fishermans Bend area will also lead to increased conventional benefits such as travel time and vehicle operating costs.  These impacts have not been estimated in this report and could significantly underestimate the benefits associated with Melbourne Metro 2 and the urban consolidation facilitated by this project at the Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Area in particular.

KPMG, Arup, Jacobs - Preliminary demand modelling and economic appraisal for Infrastructure Victoria's 30 year strategy, page 89.

Unless much has changed since the consultant report was released in 2016, having the most robust business case - with a benefit-cost ratio as the ultimate output - will likely not be forthcoming for the SRL or MM2.  

Therefore, I'll add another question to the mix: is there a new model under development addressing the caveats in the infrastructure Victoria 30-year strategy and supporting information?

That said, it's useful to take a good look at the current state of play throughout all the middle ring suburbs.  10% of all current projects on the Urban.com.au database for metropolitan Melbourne are in the suburbs that now have the SRL spotlight on them.

Here's a summary on each suburb - click the suburb heading to see a lit of projects.

Total number of projects 156
Total number of dwellings 12,727


It's not clear if Cheltenham or Southland will be the eastern terminus for the SRL, regardless, the suburb has a healthy supply of apartments in its own pipeline.  The bulk are either sitting on the Urban.com.au database with a status of Planning Assessment or Approved and projects range from ~15 apartments up to 126.

The majority of projects are concentrated in the Cheltenham and Southland station area.

Number of projects 19
Number of dwellings 884

Clayton - Monash University - Monash NEIC

At the opposite end of the spectrum from Cheltenham, despite being the proposed 'next stop' on the SRL, Clayton's pipeline is spread out, a lot.  Likewise, the entire region which has the highest concentration of jobs outside central Melbourne already is getting a lot of love from the Victorian Planning Authority through its National Employment and Innovation Cluster framework.

The Monash NEIC is quite meaty and we're likely to see increased development - commercial, institutional and residential - regardless.  With the advent of the SRL however?  I dare say: On your marks!

The database reflects the diverse land-uses in the area already with 3-4 institutional and commercial and hotel projects on the cards.  Click here for a refresher on VPA's Monash NEIC framework plans.

Number of projects 16
Number of dwellings 1015

Glen Waverley

It's already a terminus station and one not shy of development with The Glen shopping centre seeing significant change, as well as residential components being added to it.

Where Cheltenham's development size range has its upper end at 126, Glen Waverley is anything from 14 to 555.  The development with 555 apartments is Golden Age's multi-tower Sky Garden which is attached to The Glen shopping centre.

Number of projects 13
Number of dwellings 1806
What's happening in the suburbs the Suburban Rail Loop might link?
Sky Garden in Glen Waverley

Deakin University - Burwood

Excluding the University of Melbourne & RMIT,  redbrick and 'verdant' universities in Melbourne were built in the automobile era and Deakin's primary campus in Burwood - formerly Burwood teachers college - is linked by a radial tram route but relies on buses to the north and south.

Burwood has a decent spread of residential projects in its own right - one might suggest the tram line has something to do with it - but it also well-established suburb.  It's unlikely, to my layman's eye, that there will be much redevelopment on the scale we might see around Monash or La Trobe universities.

Burwood's pipeline mostly lies in the residential growth zone which fronts the Burwood Highway (and tram route) with no project larger than 69 apartments.

Number of projects 9
Number of dwellings 329

Box Hill

Where Burwood is likely to see modest growth - unless something changes in the planning space between now and when (if) the SRL may be implemented - Box Hill as many readers will know is quite literally on fire with one of Melbourne's most significant development pipelines.

Rather than give a summary, perhaps you might want to read a recent article on the suburb.  

33 projects are in the pipeline for Box Hill with a range from 20 up to 500 - similar to Glen Waverley but on a much larger scale.

Number of projects 33
Number of dwellings 4594


No stranger to medium and high-density development, Doncaster and the wider City of Manningham, is the only local government area to have no rail service (tram or train).  If the SRL is built, a significant amount of existing apartments that have been built around Doncaster Westfield and a very healthy pipeline of development will get access to rail service for the first time.

Doncaster like Box Hill and Glen Waverley have a good size range in the development pipeline and it is the second largest suburb in development pipeline numbers in this list of suburbs we're looking at.

Number of projects 26
Number of dwellings 2234


Crossing the Yarra, Heidelberg like Box Hill has a significant amount of jobs located in its central area - especially in the health sector - and it too has a healthy pipeline of residential projects.

It's a recurring theme among middle ring suburbs, much of the pipeline will disappear under the radar (unless you live in the area), Heidelberg, Cheltenham and Burwood are all characterised by developments with a size range of 15-120 dwellings.

Caydon's Ivanhoe apartments was recently completed (and therefore is not a project and is not reflected in the below pipeline numbers) and there are other sizeable recently completed projects in the suburb as well.

Number of projects 21
Number of dwellings 822
What's happening in the suburbs the Suburban Rail Loop might link?
104 Mount Street in Heidelberg


La Trobe University & NEIC

As we begin the northern leg of the SRL route, the La Trobe University/BUNDOORA station will likely be in the same realm as Monash University - there's a small amount of residential in the immediate surrounds, but the focus of the station is likely to be more about institutional or commercial development over the long-run.

Click here for a refresher on the VPA's La Trobe NEIC

There are two projects on the Urban.com.au database for "BUNDOORA" and located near enough to La Trobe University but there are other suburbs which are also captured within the La Trobe NEIC.

Number of projects (BUNDOORA only) 2
Number of dwellings (BUNDOORA only) 206


Alas, we come across the first existing station that we know is going to see significant change the short term.  Reservoir is on the state government's list of level crossings to be removed and the Level Crossing Removal Authority's website shows the project is still at the Options Assessment stage.

In all likelihood, the geotechnical work that has been undertaken for the Level Crossing Removal project will inform the larger business case for the SRL.  The two competing options at Reservoir are rail over the roads and rail under the roads. 

The suburb of Reservoir on the Urban.com.au database reflects its proximity to La Trobe University with two projects within the station's immediate surrounds and the bulk of the suburb's projects located nearer La Trobe.

Number of projects (Reservoir station only) 2
Number of dwellings (Reservoir station only) 40


FAWKNER is where we come across the first suburb which has no existing projects in the pipeline and no recently completed projects.  This is possibly a reflection on the predominant land use in the area: a cemetery.  FAWKNER station is adjacent to the cemetery and the area is dominated by General Residential and Industrial Zone on Moreland's planning scheme.

Not every new SRL station will have large amounts of development around it and I dare say FAWKNER will be flying the flag in this department.  On the flipside, the large tracts of land between Sydney Road and the Upfield Rail line - and not in use by the cemetery - will likely do wonders for minimising disruptive costs when (if) the SRL station platforms are built.


Broadmeadows has featured on the Urban.com.au database in the past, especially the commercial area but there are no current residential pipeline projects.

Incidentally, the local member for Broadmeadows, Frank McGuire, and Minister for Suburban Development, Lily D'Ambrosio were seen on Twitter in recent days unveiling a 'Revitalising Broadmeadows' blueprint.  Watch this space?

Melbourne Airport

As one might expect, not a lot of residential development on our database at the airport.... because it's the airport!  Like Monash and La Trobe, this SRL station and any forthcoming redevelopment will focus on employment-related uses on top of the primary task of moving people in and out of the airport itself.

Sunshine & NEIC

All (rail)roads lead to Sunshine.  You must be doing cartwheels if you purchased a property in Sunshine 10 years ago - capital growth in this area has skyrocketed like much of Melbourne but there's no other suburban area of Melbourne that is seeing the kind of public transport investment that Sunshine has, is about to have and will have in the future.

The Regional Rail Link, Melbourne Metro 1, the Airport rail Link (which may be swallowed by the wider SRL project), potentially the Melton electrification project - Sunshine will be one of the best-connected suburbs in the metropolitan area.  And it's not shy of new residential development either.

While the total numbers are small, the single project which has over 200 dwellings in it points to how developers are quite happy to invest in Sunshine.  And so they should, given it's also getting a lot of love from the Victorian Planning Authority - click here for a refresher on the Sunshine NEIC.

Number of projects 6
Number of dwellings 424
What's happening in the suburbs the Suburban Rail Loop might link?
RiverEdge in Werribee

Werribee & NEIC

At the Western terminus in Werribee we have small development pipeline precedent and an adjacent NEIC just like in Sunshine.  Like in Cheltenham, Burwood and Heidelberg, the development size has an upper-end range in the 120s and 130s and unlike the aforementioned suburbs, in Werribee, projects are clustered not far from the existing station.

The East Werribee NEIC, better known as Australian Education City, is having its masterplan completed private and VPA's website reflects this.  Of all the routes and stations, getting from Sunshine to Werribee is perhaps the most 'up in the air'.  

The Regional Rail Link was built to cater for a scenario where four tracks will be built and the SRL may utilise this corridor or it could be a completely different alignment with underground sections - we simply won't know until the $300 million outlined is spent on a business case for the project, should the Andrews Government be re-elected. 

Number of projects 9
Number of dwellings 373


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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