Paid parking at Williams Landing railway station

There are many things that people think should be free – with car parking being one of them. Especially controversial is paid parking at railway stations – but in Melbourne it has already started, with barely a wimper.

Paid parking operated by private operator Ace Parking opposite the station

Williams Landing railway station opened in 2013 with 500 parking spaces, with the surrounding area designed as a ‘transit oriented development’.

500-odd space car park on the eastern side of Palmers Road

But even before the station opened, transport links from neighbouring suburbs were flagged as inadequate.

Being built at a cost of $110 million, a new railway station at Williams Landing will help fill a deep need for better public transport in Melbourne’s outer west when it opens in April. It is predicted that up to 1000 passengers will use the station each day in the morning peak, adding to the swelling commuter numbers on the crowded Werribee line.

But some of those would-be commuters are wondering just how they will get to the new station, even as they look forward to its opening.

Jammed local roads, infrequent and indirect bus services and a deficit of parking spaces mean reaching Williams Landing station will not be simple for the residents of Melbourne’s burgeoning western suburbs.

Just south of the freeway is Point Cook, population 32,500 and growing, and to the north is the developing suburb of Truganina, home to 39,000. Closest to the station is the suburb of Williams Landing, a masterplanned suburb that will in future have 2500 homes but is today occupied by just 3000 people.

Passengers flocked to the new station.

Siemens 757M arrives into Williams Landing with an up Werribee service

A revamped network of bus routes serve the station, but are an unappealing option, given they get stuck in the same traffic that commuters are trying to avoid.

Westrans bus #117 rego 7359AO on route 497 at Williams Landing station

As a result commuters stayed in their cars, illegally parking around the station.

In recent months Wyndham City has started fining motorists who illegally park near the station. The council issued more than 900 fines last year. It also issued almost 1300 fines around Hoppers Crossing, the next station down the line.

As well as creating their own unofficial car park in a paddock to the south.

Unofficial car park on the Point Cook side of Williams Landing station

The government announced a ‘solution’ in July 2016.

The Andrews Labor Government will build up to 150 new car parks for commuters at Williams Landing Station.

The new spaces will be built on land between Wallace Avenue and Palmers Road, which is currently used as an informal car park. The area will be paved, so it doesn’t get muddy when it’s wet, and will include new lighting, signage and CCTV.

Every new space is expected to be built and available to commuters by the end of next year.

But property developer Cedar Woods, responsible for the neighbouring Williams Landing complex, offered their own solution.

Parking woes at Williams Landing train station may soon be a thing of the past, with property developer Cedar Woods offering to help Public Transport Victoria find a solution.

Cedar Woods development director Patrick Archer confirmed the company had proposed an interim commuter carpark to alleviate some of the stress experienced by commuters.

“It’s up in the air at the moment,” Mr Archer told Star Weekly. “We’ve offered to extend our existing carpark at the shopping centre, leading down to the same street the carpark is on.

“We’re open to other options as well.”

As well as an operator of a commercial car park next door to the station.

Great news for those battling for a parking spot each morning: a new commuter car park at Williams Landing train station will be operational as of tomorrow.

A parking lot offering an additional 300 parking spots on Overton Road between Palmers Road and Kendall Street, adjacent to the train station, will be opened by Ace Parking as of 6am Thursday morning.

Ace Parking commercial business manager Richard Curtain said the project had been in the works for more than a year, with a goal of easing the stress of commuters who are forced to walk up to 700 metres each morning and evening.

“I started chasing this after seeing a media report about the lack of parking at the station,” he said.

“The situation was obviously upsetting for commuters, with the existing car park filling up by 7am.”

Mr Curtain said parking would be free of charge tomorrow, but a $2 fee would be introduced later this week, allowing cars for a 12-hour period.

Said ‘car park’ was just a dirt paddock, with an advertised price of ‘just $2’.

Private operator charging $2 a day for car parking in a paddock beside Williams Landing station

But that requires buying a seven day pass.

$3.00 Flat Rate (12 Hours)

Or buy a $12 for 5 Day Pass (valid for 5 consecutive days) – That’s just $2.40 per day – a saving of $3.00!

Or buy a $14 for 7 Day Pass (valid for 7 consecutive days) – That’s just $2.00 per day – a saving of $7.00!

Which explains the average one star rating on Google.

Pay 4 dollars for the privilege of parking in a field, try to pay and none of the machines work.

The parking machines don’t work most of the times. Today out 4 parking machines only 1 worked resulting into big lineups. Missed 2 trains due to this.

Transforms from parking area to Lake in no time, Forget about the entrance , half your car tyres are entirely under water. Muddy and water pools during rain and lots of dust on dry days as its just crushed rock and dust. To our wonder, the ticketing machines take money and don’t give out tickets many times and this is always there. No marked lines.

I can’t believe anybody would pay to park here. It’s full of pot holes, rocks and mud. If you do have to park here, avoid doing so on a day expecting rain or you might not get your car back out.

I wish I could vote negative stars because it’s ridiculous that they should charge for parking here. There’s a massive, massive pit right at the entrance and the ground is unpaved, so after a rainy night the pit at the entrance becomes a pond and the ground is all muddy. There’s no light source of any kind in the car park itself, because what’s better fun than trek through the muddy ground under the moon light?

With the construction of the Target head office building north of the station, this car park has since closed, replaced by a nicer gravel car park on the other side of the road.

Homeward bound commuters exit the station at Williams Landing

A sea of car parking forever?

This aerial view of Williams Landing station shows a sea of car parking, with four different car parks visible:

  • Williams Landing shopping centre to the top left,
  • Ace Parking to the centre,
  • the abandoned Masters store to the top right, and
  • the ‘official’ railway station car park to the bottom right.

The recently upgraded 150 space ‘official’ car park is located on the south side of the freeway.

But the masterplan for the Williams Landing will see a mix of office and retail developments north of the station, joining the Target Australia head office currently under construction.

Hopefully some bus priority measures are put in place soon, as continuing down the same car dependent path is not going to work.

Further reading

Back in 2013 Daniel Bowen took a look at the pros and cons of paid railway station parking in Melbourne, while in 2016 Alan Davies examined alternate options to expanding station car parks.

Donald Shoup’s 2005 book ‘The High Cost of Free Parking‘ provides a background to the side effects of not charging for parking, while Reinventing Parking looks at ways of addressing it.

Photos from ten years ago: March 2008

Another instalment in my photos from ten years ago series – this time it is March 2008.

Like most months we start down at Geelong, where I found a stretch of decaying timber sleepered track on the main line to Melbourne.

Peak School Road level crossing and wooden sleepers

Despite the millions of dollars spent on the Regional Fast Rail project between 2004 and 2006, this stretch of worn track was left behind – the measure of success for the project was a faster travel time for a handful of express trains each day.

Victoria’s fast-train network, a year behind schedule but scheduled to begin operating in 2006, originally promised the prospect of swift rail access from Melbourne to some of the state’s prime regional tourism destinations, such as Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong and the coast.

But according to the draft 2006 fast-train schedule released by V/Line, the promised frequent express services, particularly for travel from Melbourne, will be often as slow as the old ones.

In the time brackets that suit people travelling out from Melbourne for the day, the 45 minutes to Geelong is typically 60-65 minutes, the 65 minutes eventually promised for Ballarat is as much as an hour and 50 minutes, and Bendigo as much as two hours.

It turns out that only a handful of services from the regions in the morning will meet the promised travel-time savings.

The reason? It all gets back to money and politics. Money because the Government eventually opted for a low-cost version of the original vision, which meant many time-saving features were axed.

Politics got involved when it was realised that to achieve the time targets, country communities along the line would miss out because the fast trains would have to run express throughout the day. So rather than introduce new express services, almost all will be slowed down by en-route stops.

By 2008 V/Line realised that maintaining decaying timber sleepers was a losing battle, so started replacing them with concrete sleepers.

New sleepers stacked

Instead of ripping up the track and rebuilding it from scratch, they used slotted new concrete sleepers into the spaces where timber sleepers used to be.

Loaded sleeper handling machine headed to the worksite from North Geelong towards Geelong

This allowed trains to continue running while the works were going on.

Standard Gauge freight runs past track work at Cowies Creek

But in the process destroyed the drainage properties of the track bed, allowing water to pump through the ballast, creating ‘mud holes’.

Mud hole in the V/Line tracks at North Geelong

But a more immediate f^[email protected] occurred during the construction of a new platform tram stop at the corner of Flinders Street and Swanston Street.

New island platform stop under construction, Flinders Street and Swanston Street

Excavation work at street level misjudged the depth of the Degraves Street Subway below, breaking through the roof, and damaging the shops below.

Said shops were closed off for a number of weeks, while repair works were completed.

Degraves Street Subway, Flinders Street Station. Blocked off shops to the left where they dug through the roof

A more successful upgrade was the reconfiguration of the tracks at the arrival end of Southern Cross Station.

Track rearrangement work at the up end of Southern Cross

The existing tracks were ripped up.

Trackwork to rearrange the entry to Southern Cross Station

And new dual gauge tracks laid to platform 2, ready for the operation of standard gauge V/Line trains to Albury.

Trackwork to rearrange the entry to Southern Cross Station

Another upgrade was the installation of drivers air conditioning to the final six Hitachi trains still serving Melbourne.

Drivers air conditioning on the roof of 197M

Originally planned to be decommissioned following the 2006 Commonwealth Games, patronage growth on the suburban network saw them kept in service beyond their use by date, with passengers sweating inside the non-air conditioned saloons until their eventual retirement in 2014.

We then end on something positive – the debut of the route 401 shuttle bus between North Melbourne Station, the Royal Melbourne Hospital, and the University of Melbourne.

Sita bus #43 rego 6728AO waits for route 401 passengers at North Melbourne station

It was the first example of a useful bus service in Melbourne:

Melbourne’s newest bus – route 401 – started operation today, and it seems to be quite a departure from existing Melbourne bus practice. Running from North Melbourne station to Melbourne University, it eschews basically everything we expect from a Melbourne bus. It is high frequency (every 3 minutes peak, every 6 minutes off peak), has very few stops, doesn’t allow the driver to sell tickets and runs as a spur from a trip generator to an interchange station.

Some of these developments – such as the high frequency and direct link between a railway station and trip generator – are very positive indeed. The limited stops idea is interesting, but the bus should really also stop at Abbotsford St. to connect with the 57 Tram. Furthermore, it’s disappointing that it won’t be running after 7:30pm or on weekends. It’s a start though and it’s nice to see a departure from the entrenched mindset. I didn’t see anyone aboard today, but given time it should start getting some decent patronage.

And led the way for similar express bus services across Melbourne – route 601 from Huntingdale Station to Monash University, as well as route 201 from Box Hill Station to Deakin University, route 301 from La Trobe University to Reservoir Station and route 403 from Footscray Station to Melbourne University.

And a note on timber sleepers

The same half-arsed method of ‘side insertion’ sleeper replacement was used by the Australian Rail Track Corporation on the Melbourne-Sydney railway – leading to a flood of track faults, and delays to the V/Line service to Albury.


Here you can find the rest of my ‘photos from ten years ago

The City Ring Road that Melbourne never built

If you think Melbourne is a city already strangled by freeways, then this 1954 proposal for a City Ring Road will surely make you feel that we dodged a bullet.

West Gate Freeway at CityLink

Included as part of the 1954 Melbourne Metropolitan Planning Scheme, the City Ring Road was for a controlled access road that would encircle the entire CBD, West Melbourne, and what is now considered Docklands and Southbank.

The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works described what they saw as the problem.

From the study of the movements of traffic within and adjacent to the central business area of the city it is apparent that much unnecessary traffic enters the area.

The traffic census carried out in 1947 under the auspices of the Town and Country Planning Board showed that about 50% of the total traffic which entered this area daily passed straight through to destinations elsewhere. At peak periods most of the traffic on Princes Bridge and Spencer Street Bridge, and a substantial portion on Queen’s Bridge is through traffic.

This results from the following important traffic movements:

(a) Between the northern and western suburbs and the industrial district and shipping berths of the river.
(b) Between the shipping and rail terminals and the industrial areas of the inner eastern suburbs.
(c) The increasing volume of traffic between the shipping and rail terminals on the one hand, and the industrial areas in the west and at Geelong, the industrial areas developing to the south-east, and the Latrobe Valley on the other hand.
(d) Substantial worker and general traffic between the southern and northern suburbs.

At present this considerable volume of through traffic has no reasonable alternative other than to pass through the central business district. To reach its destination it has frequently to make right-hand turns which not only mean loss of time, but which add to the general congestion and the slowing down of other traffic. Investigations indicate that the proportion of through traffic will tend to increase and thus accentuate the problem.

And then presented their solution.

Traffic conditions in the central area would be vastly improved if this through traffic were diverted, for besides reducing the number of vehicles using the streets it would also lessen the amount of turning traffic.

The City Ring Road (Route 1) has been planned, therefore, to permit this through traffic to by-pass the busy city centre, to facilidate the distribution of incoming traffic to the central area, and to act as a collector for outgoing traffic and give it expeditious access to the arterial road system.

Along with how it would be implemented.

If this road is to achieve its purpose, it must offer traffic an inducement to use it in preference to passing straight through. In practice, therefore, it must provide for free and uninterrupted movement to compensate for any greater distance that may have to be travelled.

It is visualised that eventually it will need to have grade separation structures or roundabouts at all important junctions, and that it will be essentially a road with controlled access. It is realised that this final development will not be justified for many years, but the route chosen is one which can be developed progressively. Most of the roads are already 99 feet wide, sufficient to accommodate traffic for some time, provided it is properly controlled. The Spring Street – Victoria Street section is already used
extensively as a by-pass route.

As well as widening existing road corridors, two new road bridges over the Yarra River would be required.

A crossing over the river between Blyth Street, West Melbourne, and Johnson Street, South Melbourne, which is the most urgent portion, would relieve Spencer Street of about one-third of its traffic, and is therefore warranted immediately.

Construction of the crossing over the railway yards between Alexandra Avenue and Spring Street would complete the ring. Improvement at the various intersections could then be carried out when justified by the volume of traffic using the route. This road is the key to the proposed road communication system and of the greatest importance to the future of the central business area.

So what happened?

As you might expect, planning for a freeway along Spring Street past the steps of Parliament House didn’t go down well, so the route was soon moved to Lansdowne Street in East Melbourne – which introduced a new problem.

The route then proposed in the 1954 planning scheme and incorporated in the board’s interim development order followed Lansdowne Street. When examined in more detail, it was found that the effect of such a route on the Treasury and Fitzroy Gardens adjoining Lansdowne Street would be most undesirable.

A third alignment was then tried.

Another alternative examined much farther to the east passed very close to the Melbourne Cricket Ground and followed Powlett Street.

And then a fourth.

The route finally selected followed Clarendon Street and was considered to be the best of all alternatives offering. In 1963, the necessary amendment to what was then the metropolitan interim development order, to reserve land for the new Clarendon Street route, was made public, and objections were raised.

Which then underwent multiple revisions, until finally approved.

The Government favoured further examination of the alternative to modify the Clarendon Street plan, and finally the plan was approved by the Governor in Council in 1968. This was plan 7. We have come a long way from plan 4.

By 1971 the eastern section of the City Ring Road was being re-examined, following the release of the 1969 Melbourne Transportation Plan:

A Cabinet sub-committee had been investigating the material put forward by objectors and voluntary organizations, and had been examining the Melbourne transportation plan with a view to considering what parts of it should be implemented.

It recommended that the eastern leg of the ring road should be rejected, on the grounds that the project would have created a considerable disturbance to the charm, character and environment of the area through which it was planned, and that more acceptable and less costly alternatives to serve Melbourne’s transport needs could be achieved.

But that didn’t mean it wasn’t to be replaced by another freeway.

It also recommended that priority be given to a further detailed investigation of all implications of a freeway which had been called F2 and which was proposed in general terms as a north-south by-pass somewhere to the east of Hoddle Street in a location which is certainly far from decided.

As well as completion of the western half of the City Ring Road as freeway.

The sub-committee recommended that the Government give priority to the construction of the freeway known as F14, which will provide Melbourne with a north-south by-pass link with the Tullamarine Freeway, and a crossing of the Yarra River west of Spencer Street.

But these recommendations didn’t immediately kill off the eastern City Ring Road.

The MMBW proposal was subsequently modified in 1971 to the development of a 6 lane freeway commencing at Wellington Parade, moving southwards across the Melbourne Cricket Ground parking area, Brunton Avenue, the railway yards and the Yarra River, and passing beneath the Domain and St Kilda Road and re-surfacing in Grant Street.

Construction of the proposed link was scheduled to commence in the late 1970s. However, following a request from the then Minister for Local Government requesting a re-examination of the proposal, it was subsequently abandoned and the planning scheme reservation through the Domain was removed in 1975.

But even that wasn’t enough to completely kill off the proposal – a few decades later it came back in a different form – the Exhibition Street Extension. Announced by the State Government in April 1998 and completed in October 1999, this four lane divided road over the Jolimont railyards linked the upgraded CityLink tollway at Swan Street to the Melbourne CBD at Flinders Street.

A class tram heads south on route 70 along the Exhibition Street Extension

Proposals have also been made to upgrade Hoddle Street to a controlled access road, by grade separating intersections along the route, or building a tunnel under the entire road.

And to the south and west

The western and southern parts of the City Ring Road both featured in the 1969 Melbourne Transportation Plan – with the F14 freeway providing a north-south bypass of the CBD via a crossing of the Yarra River west of Spencer Street, and the F9 freeway forming an east-west bypass through South Melbourne.

Work on the southern half commenced as part of the Lower Yarra Crossing project – better known as the West Gate Bridge. The first stage of the freeway opened between Lorrimer Street in 1978 along with the West Gate Bridge, with a second stage east to Stuart Street opening in 1987, and a connection to the South Eastern Freeway built as part of CityLink ‘Southern Link’ and opened in 2000.

Underneath the West Gate Freeway viaducts in South Melbourne

The western half of the City Ring Road was completed in 1975 with the opening of the Charles Grimes Bridge, which linked an upgraded Footscray Road on the north bank of the Yarra to Montague Street on the south.

This route was duplicated by Bolte Bridge and the ‘Western Link’ section of CityLink in 1999. In conjunction with the Melbourne Docklands development, during 1999-2001 Footscray Road was closed as a through route, Wurundjeri Way constructed as a replacement north-south route, and the Charles Grimes Bridge rebuilt to connect with it.

Empty wharves at Victoria Dock

And the last piece of the puzzle?

The only portion of the City Ring Road that has never been built was the northern half along Victoria Street, but the on-again off-again East West Link fills the same need.

Unfortunately this cartoon by Ron Tanberg grows more accurate year by year.

And a note on ‘City Bypass’ signs

Melway Edition 22 from 1993 included a “Central Melbourne Bypass & Access Routes” map for the first time – with VicRoads having installed matching signage about the same time.

Note the similarities between this and the 1954 City Ring Road proposal.

Footnote: route details

The 1954 Melbourne Metropolitan Planning Scheme described the proposed City Ring Road route as such.

From the roundabout (1) at the corner of Victoria and Nicholson Streets the road would follow Victoria Street westwards, passing over Rathdown Street (2) and under Lygon Street (3). From Cardigan Street it would be carried in a viaduct (4) over the junctions of Victoria Street with Swanston and Elizabeth Streets to near Queen Street.

It would continue along Victoria Street and Hawke Street, which would be joined with Cowper Street by a bridge (5) over the railway yards and the road junction at Dudley Street. The road would continue along Cowper and Blyth Streets and cross the river, probably by a movable type bridge (6), to the important junction with Route 3 at Johnson and Brady Streets.

Eventually, traffic at this point would warrant direct connection by viaduct (7) with Grant Street. The road would continue along Grant Street, where it would form portion of the approach road from the deep-water port to the city business centre.

Crossing under St. Kilda Road and portion of the King’s Domain to Alexandra Avenue, it would then be carried across the river and railway yards by bridge (8) to Spring Street, which from the south side of Collins Street to the north side of Bourke Street would be depressed (9) to avoid interruption to the movement of its traffic by vehicles from Collins and Bourke Streets.

Building atop the Melbourne Metro stations

With planning completed for the Melbourne Metro and construction work now underway, much has been written about the flashy new underground railway stations that will serve the city. But one thing that has been hiding in the shadows is the commercial buildings that will be built atop these new stations, and who will profit from them.

Town Hall Station

Town Hall Station will be located below Swanston Street, next door to Flinders Street Station, and will have two street level entrances: one beneath City Square at Collins Street, the other on Swanston Street beside Young and Jacksons Hotel.

Construction of the southern entrance requires the compulsory acquisition of a number of properties: the McDonalds, KFC and Commonwealth Bank buildings on Swanston Street, and the Port Phillip Arcade on Flinders Street.

Demolishing shops on Swanston Street to make room for the future Town Hall station

Once construction of the Melbourne Metro tunnel is completed, the site will be turned over to the private sector to build an over site development.

The development was approved in October 2017, and is subject to the following conditions:

This document allows for demolition, including bulk excavation, and the development and use of the OSD Land for Shop, Food and drink premises (excluding Hotel and Tavern unless with the consent of the Minister for Planning), Office, Place of assembly, Education centre, Residential hotel, and advertising signage generally in accordance with the following plans and subject to the requirements of this document.

The maximum building height is 40 metres, in order to protect solar access south of the site.

Any future development must not increase the shadowing of Federation Square between 11am – 3pm from 22 April to 22 September.

Any future development may consider the shadowing of the Flinders Street station steps between 11am – 3pm from 22 April to 22 September.

State Library Station

State Library Station will be located below Swanston Street, next door to Melbourne Central Station, and will have two street level entrances: one on Franklin Street, the other at the corner of Swanston and La Trobe Street.

Construction of the latter entrance requires the compulsory acquisition of a number of properties: the Hungary Jacks restaurant on the corner, an apartment building to the west, and a future apartment block site to the north.

Once construction of the Melbourne Metro tunnel is completed, the site will be turned over to the private sector to build an over site development.

The development was approved in October 2017, and is subject to the following conditions:

This document allows for demolition, including bulk excavation and the development and use of the OSD Land for Accommodation (including but not limited to Serviced Apartments, Residential Building, Student Accommodation and Residential Hotel but excluding any beds within the podium levels of the building/s), Education Centre, Office, Place of Assembly (other than Amusement parlour and Nightclub), Restricted Recreation Facility, Retail Premises (other than Adult sex bookshop, Department store, Hotel, Supermarket, and Tavern unless with the consent of the Minister for Planning) and advertising signage and staging generally in accordance with the following plans and subject to the requirements of this Incorporated Document.

The maximum building height is 180 metres at the north-western corner of the site – around 55 storeys tall – stepping down to 150 metres at the south-west corner, and 113 metres at the south-east corner, in order to protect solar access to the State Library forecourt.

Any increase to the building heights indicated on the Building Envelope Plan required for a matter listed above in notes(i) (a)-(c) must demonstrate that there is no net increase in shadow impact (from the combined impact of existing, under construction (393 Swanston Street and 224-252 La Trobe Street (Aurora)) and planning permit approved (2011013727A and TP-2013-817) shadows as at October 2017), on the State Library Forecourt between the hours of 11am and 3pm from 22 April to 22 September.

Parkville Station

Parkville Station will be located below Grattan Street, next door to Melbourne university, and will have three street level entrances.

The station entrances will be built on land acquired from the University of Melbourne, with no over site development planned at the site as part of the rail project due to the site being located under a road reserve. From the Melbourne Metro business case:

The Department has assessed the potential for over site or air rights developments at Parkville station. However, this station is proposed to be located within existing road reserves and as such is not considered to provide a footprint suitable for a significant over site development.

However the design of the new station entrances is required to preserve the ability for the air space to be developed in future.

7.3 Parkville Station

7.3.3 include an entrance on the northeast corner of the Royal Parade and Grattan Street intersection (Royal Parade entrance);

7.3.10 provide a design and construction solution at the Royal Parade entrance that does not preclude the construction of 60 metre high OSD and does not preclude OSD with a clearance of eight metres above the existing natural surface;

7.3.4 include an entrance on the north Grattan Street frontage of the University of Melbourne between the Gate Keeper’s Cottage and the Medical Faculty Building 181 (University entrance);

7.3.11 provide a design and construction solution at the University entrance that does not preclude OSD with a clearance of eight metres above the existing natural surface; and

7.3.12 if any part of the main Station box is located on land acquired from the University of Melbourne, provide a design and construction solution which does not preclude the construction of 60 metre high OSD over the portion of the Station box which is on acquired land.

These requirements replaced earlier plans to build underground retail tenancies inside the station box.

Amend the edge of the Parkville Station box footprint immediately to the south of the existing Triradiate Building (Building 181) by removing the retail along the northern edge of the Station box, such that that Station box does not encroach into or otherwise impact the development potential of University of Melbourne and at this location (-495m2).

North Melbourne (Arden) Station

North Melbourne Station (originally called Arden) is located west of Laurens Street in North Melbourne.

Located on a brownfields site owned by the State Government and previously leased by a variety of industrial tenants, these buildings are being cleared to make room for a construction compound, open cut station box, and the station entrance.

Demolishing Laurens Hall on Arden Street

Once construction work is complete, the site will be turned over to the State Government as part of the Arden-Macaulay Precinct urban renewal project.

Arden-Macaulay Precinct urban renewal project

Development of the site is being managed separately from the Melbourne Metro project.

Commercial development on surplus land at Arden – the urban renewal opportunities at the Arden-Macaulay Precinct will have limited direct interface with the Arden station works. Accordingly, a separate government agency will be responsible for overseeing the urban renewal of this precinct and commercial developments at Arden will not be procured as part of Melbourne Metro.

But the design of the new station must allow for future over site development.

Arden Station must:
7.2.1 be located west of Laurens Street;
7.2.3 include an entrance at Laurens Street (eastern entrance);
7.2.8 be developed to not preclude an OSD (designed and constructed by others) of mixed used development up to 150 metres in height, sited over the Station and Station entrance.

Anzac (Domain) Station

Anzac Station will be located below St Kilda Road at Domain Interchange. The Melbourne Metro business case examined possible development opportunities, but did not find any.

The Department has assessed the potential for over site or air rights developments at the Domain station. However, this station is proposed to be located within existing road reserves and as such is not considered to provide a footprint suitable for a significant over site development.

So who profits from these developments?

The government likes to crow that they have fully funded the Melbourne Metro project, but that is a half truth – they have signed taxpayers up to yet another Public Private Partnership, where we agree to pay a private company a bucket-load of money over a 30 year period, instead of the government borrowing the money at a cheaper rate.

The government’s official description of the financial arrangement is:

A multi-billion dollar availability based Public Private Partnership (PPP) includes the design and construction of the twin nine-kilometre tunnels and five underground stations, private finance and the provision of maintenance and other services during the operating term.

PPP works will be undertaken by the Cross Yarra Partnership (CYP) consortium. CYP comprises Lendlease Engineering, John Holland, Bouygues Construction and Capella Capital.

A PPP model drives innovation, best practice and value for money on the project. In an ‘availability PPP’ the State Government provides regular payments to the private party for making the asset ‘available’ for use. For this package, that will mean making the tunnel and stations available for public transport operations and Victorians to use.

The Registration of Interest (ROI) document issued by the government in November 2015 details the full scope of the PPP:

Tunnels and Stations (Availability PPP)
• 9km twin tunnels and five underground stations including fit-out
• Mechanical and electrical systems
• Tunnel and stations maintenance
• Commercial development opportunities

But this Public Private Partnership is a little different from those those seen in Victoria before – the concept of “value capture” is being used to reduce the cost of the taxpayer, as described by the Melbourne Metro business case dated February 2016.

Opportunities exist to partially defray the cost of the project through value associated with air rights development at CBD North and CBD South, and through the sale of surplus land. Additional opportunities also exist at Arden.

It then went into some specifics of the type of the value capture opportunities.

Value capture opportunities considered as part of this assessment have included the potential to:

– Incorporate retail or other commercial opportunities within the new stations
– Expand station infrastructure to accommodate additional development
– Capture value from existing properties and/or planned developments in the vicinity of the new stations (such as by offering direct pedestrian access via underground pedestrian walkways)
– Develop ‘air rights’ above the new infrastructure (over site development)
– Develop surplus land (land required for construction purposes but not for ongoing use by the project)
– Stimulate urban renewal and capture value from the associated new development activities.

As well as detailing who would be best placed to delivering these opportunities.

Commercial opportunities associated with the project include general amenity retail offerings in stations, station airspace rights (over site development) and broader precinct development opportunities. The preliminary packaging considerations in relation to these opportunities are:

– Commercial opportunities in stations – it is desirable to package these with the Tunnel and Stations package so that stations can be designed to best accommodate retail and other potential opportunities

– Station airspace rights – over site development opportunities exist at CBD North and CBD South stations. Given the significant interface between design and construction of the station boxes and any over site developments, it is desirable to package these development opportunities with the Tunnel and Stations package

– Commercial development on surplus land at Arden – the urban renewal opportunities at the Arden-Macaulay Precinct will have limited direct interface with the Arden station works. Accordingly, a separate government agency will be responsible for overseeing the urban renewal of this precinct and commercial developments at Arden will not be procured as part of Melbourne Metro.

In July 2017 it was announced that the Cross Yarra Partnership (CYP) – a consortium led by Lendlease, John Holland, Bouygues Construction and Capella Capital – was selected as the preferred bidder for the AU$6 billion tunnel and stations public private partnership, with contracts signed in December 2017.

The rights to the over-site development at Town Hall Station were assigned to Lendlease through their subsidiary Lendlease (OSD South) Pty Limited, while the rights to the over-site development at State Library Station were assigned to John Holland via their subsidiary John Holland Nth OSD Developer Pty Ltd.

I wonder which site is worth more money, and how the allocation of developers was decided – the maximum height limit at the CBD North site is far higher, but CBD South is in a busier part of the city.

Some curious ways of cashing in

Next door to the Town Hall Station site, the owner of the KFC building at 27-29 Swanston Street made a curious planning application in October 2016, in a bid to inflate the amount they would receive following the compulsory acquisition of their property.

The owners of the KFC building at 27-29 Swanston St in October lodged a planning application with the City of Melbourne for 14 apartments above the three-storey building.

The Melbourne Metro Rail Authority (MMRA) in October 2015 made it known that the building was among those it was looking to acquire to build the CBD South Station.

The planning application comprises little more than architectural drawings, with the council still seeking essential details before it can properly assess the bid.

The owners are seeking council permission to build the extra seven floors, construct two apartments per floor and connect each of them direct into the heritage-protected Nicholas Building, which they also own.

Under the Land Acquisition and Compensation Act 1986, compensation is based on the value of properties at the time of acquisition. In an information sheet prepared by the MMRA in 2015, the authority said: “Compensation recognises the value of improvements and renovations that add value to your property.”

The Australian Financial Review explains further:

For the sum of $8189 the Cohens and their co-investors submitted a plan for 14 single-bedroom apartments, adding more than 1500 square metres of residential space overlooking St Paul’s Cathedral.

On rough estimates, that extension if granted could add between $10 million and $15 million to the worth of the building.

Its owners could expect that additional value to be reflected in any acquisition by the MMRA.

Therein lies a question for the authorities: why approve an extension to a building that is going to be knocked down anyway?

While over at the State Library Station site, a different agreement was reached between the State Government and an existing landowner – Scape Student Living.

Student accommodation developer Scape Student Living has struck a unique “collaboration agreement” with the Victorian government, which is acquiring two of its sites for the Melbourne Metro Rail project.

Title documents show the state government’s economic development department has filed caveats on two Scape-owned properties on La Trobe Street and Little La Trobe Street on the basis of purchaser contracts.

Scape, backed by global investors Bouwinvest, APG and China’s ICBCI International, had planning approvals to build around 800 student units in two towers, worth $200 million or more, on the adjacent sites that sit above the new metro’s CBD North Station.

The government did not use its powers of compulsory acquisition for the transactions. Those powers are only available after full planning for the rail project and its multiple underground stations has been approved.

Compulsory acquisition would have been a far more costly process for the government, which may have had to pay not only for the real estate, but an estimated development return and a proportion of the earnings that the facilities generated for Scape in the future.

Given Scape’s expenditure on development planning, the government may have outlaid upwards of $40 million to buy the two properties.

The acquisitions considered early purchases for the Metro project, made through agreement with Scape.

While the government cut its acquisition costs, Scape also benefits from the so-called collaboration agreement, which gives it opportunity to return eventually to develop its proposed facilities above the site.

The agreement between the developer and the government allows the consortia building the Metro Rail station to engage with Scape on the potential for student accommodation above the new station.

A government spokesman declined to comment. Scape’s Craig Carracher confirmed the existence of an agreement to “help with planning and development of the new CBD North Station”.

This arrangement is reflected in the signatories to the Metro Tunnel Tunnel and Stations PPP, Commercial Development Agreement, CBD North:


The unincorporated joint venture comprising

John Holland Nth OSD Developer Pty Ltd ACN 623 274 564 of Level 5, 380 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne VIC 3004


Scape Little Latrobe Operator Pty Ltd ACN 607 697 183 of Tenancy 3A Swanston Square, 551 Swanston Street, Carlton VIC 3053


John Holland Property Developments Pty Ltd ACN 617 899 297 of Level 5, 380 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne VIC 3004

More plans

These plans are from the ‘Metro Tunnel: Over Site Development Incorporated Document’ linked below – CBD North / Town Hall.

And CBD South / State Library.


And you thought St Kilda Junction looked bad?

St Kilda Junction is a horrible place to navigate on foot, with a tangle of concrete flyovers carrying speeding cars and trams over a network of dingy pedestrian subways. But believe it or not, it could have been even worse.

Z3.217 heads east on route 64 at St Kilda Junction

That is something hard to believe while approaching by car.

Outbound on Dandenong Road at St Kilda Junction

Or driving through the underpasses.

Passing beneath St Kilda Junction

And especially so when waiting for a tram.

B2.2129 on route 64 turns onto St Kilda Road at St Kilda Junction

But the 1954 Melbourne Metropolitan Planning Scheme proposed a sea of flyovers that puts the current mess to shame.

See the difference?

The back story

St Kilda Junction originally had eight streets meeting in the middle:

  • Punt Road
  • Nelson Street
  • Wellington Street (with trams)
  • High Street (with trams)
  • Barkly Street
  • Fitzroy Street (with trams)
  • Queens Road
  • St Kilda Road (with trams)

But with the growth in motor vehicle traffic following World War II, the 1954 Melbourne Metropolitan Planning Scheme proposed a major revamp of the intersection.

St Kilda Junction

In any proposal for improving road communications to the southern suburbs, it is impossible to avoid concentrating a considerable volume of traffic at St. Kilda Junction and this junction becomes the most important in the suburban area.

It is estimated that when the city grows to 2,500,000, nearly 120,000 vehicles will pass through this junction in 12 hours. Much of this will be worker traffic to and from the southern suburbs, where car ownership is high. This means that peak hour traffic will be very heavy.

At some stage grade separation of the traffic will be necessary at this point and reservations have been made to allow for this. The type of intersection which will be necessary, and for which the reservations provide, is shown in diagram 29. The first stage should be the construction of the round-about at surface level, for this would immediately improve conditions. When this proves inadequate the grade separation proposals can then be constructed.

As well as massive expansion of the approach roads.

Route 23 follows Dandenong Road, which is already 198 feet wide except between Glenferrie Road, Malvern, and Burke Road, Caulfield, where relatively costly improvement will be necessary eventually to bring it up to the capacity of the rest of the route.

A new route has been provided to eliminate the existing bottleneck in Wellington Street, St. Kilda, and the route then continues along Queen’s Road and Hanna Street. Its connection also to Route 28 will facilitate the movement of traffic to the port, the western suburbs and Geelong.

Route 27 is the main outlet to the bayside suburbs and the beaches beyond. The scheme provides for elimination of the botdeneck in High Street, St. Kilda, to provide a highway 198 feet wide from the Yarra to Gardenvale.

It then continues through Brighton as a deviation of the Nepean Highway to link up at South Road with Route 26, a Country Roads Board project designed to carry the heavy holiday traffic past the seaside suburbs to beyond Frankston.

The proposals being illustrated in this diagram.

So what ended up happening?

Disputes between the St Kilda City Council and the State Government saw the grand grade separation plans shelved, with a temporary roundabout opened in 1955 and made permanent a year later. But road projects never get cancelled – only delayed – with the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) building the current network of underpasses in 1966-1970, as well as the widening of the Princes Highway (Route 23 in 1954) and Nepean Highway (Route 27).

Further reading

Car is King – Almost by Christopher Cody