The car park that ate Footscray

When you take a look at the street network of Footscray, everything looks much like many other inner Melbourne suburbs – a network of narrow streets lined by terrace houses. But if you take a close look next door to the Footscray Park campus of Victoria University, you’ll see something quite different.

It’s a sea of car parking.

The car park has spread south from the university campus on Ballarat Road.

Building 'D' at the Footscray Park campus of Victoria University

And then taken over the adjoining neighbourhood.

Gravel car park at Victoria University has swallowed up the surrounding neighbourhood

The original street network still remains, complete with footpaths and streetlights.

Peter Street used to be lined with houses, now just a car park

And cul-de-sacs.

David Street, Footscray is a dead end surrounded by the Victoria University car park

But bollards and ticket machines have replaced the houses.

Gravel car park at Victoria University has swallowed up the surrounding neighbourhood

Except for a handful of holdouts who refuse to sell.

David Street used to be lined with houses, now just a car park

The three remaining houses are easily spotted when the land titles of the area are examined.

Much like the nail houses of China.

5 David Street, Footscray is still a house - for now

These houses of Footscray have car parks either side.

2 Federal Street, Footscray used to be a house - since demolished

And across the back fence.

5 David Street, Footscray is still a house - for now

Houses along Geelong Road are still being acquired to expand the car park.

Another house on David Street demolished to make room for a car park

With no block too small to turn over to parked cars.

Car parks have replaced houses on David Street

But the residents of Federal Street are yet to fall victim to the advancing cars.

Gravel car park at Victoria University has swallowed up the surrounding neighbourhood

So where to next?

In 2015 the northern edge of the car park was closed to make room for the ‘[email protected]’ student accommodation complex.

'UniLodge@VU' student accommodation complex under construction

With work starting on sealing the rest of the gravel car park.

Rebuilding the gravel car park at Footscray University

But with high density development of Footscray taking off, replacement of the car park by more apartments is the most likely outcome.

Gravel car park at Victoria University has swallowed up the surrounding neighbourhood

Or it was, until the October 2018 announcement that the State Government would spend $1.5 billion to build a new Footscray Hospital on the car park site.

Footscray’s crumbling hospital would be rebuilt opposite Victoria University’s Footscray Park campus under a $1.5 billion election pledge by the state government.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Sunday that a returned Labor government would fund a new 504-bed hospital that could accommodate an extra 20,000 emergency department admissions and 15,000 patients each year.

The new hospital would be built on the corner of Geelong and Ballarat Roads, a site chosen from a shortlist of three locations including the current hospital site on Eleanor Street.

Construction would begin with two years and the hospital would be open by 2025.

But will the slow and infrequent route 82 tram be upgraded to cater for the extra passengers – I doubt it!


In 2017 Stephanie Convery also wrote about the car park at Victoria University:

At Victoria University in Melbourne, where I worked, car parks have slowly swallowed entire blocks of residential properties save for one or two isolated outposts; in one case, a house, a shed and a garden surrounded on three sides by a vast concrete wasteland, divvied up for hire at $10 an hour. Handwritten signs hang on the fence, chastising users for noise, rubbish, graffiti. Part of me can’t imagine who would want to continue to live with such inhospitable surroundings – a sentiment I’m sure developers exploit as often as possible – but another part of me thinks, if this place were the product of my hard labour, if this was where I had made my home, I probably wouldn’t want to leave it either.

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12 Responses to “The car park that ate Footscray”

  1. Andy says:

    Despite all the parking apparently some staff at the Uni join the bowls club as premium members so they can use the parking there!

  2. Tom the first and best says:

    A similar process of acquisition of land for car parking, followed recently by development, has taken/is taking place between Caulfield Racecourse and the railway (to the north of the racecourse and south of the railway), however it is all planned to be developed (some is already done, anther big chunk is being done at the moment and more is to follow).

  3. Andrew S says:

    Monash University at Clayton had the luxury of being able to acquire one large property and having it lie dormant for years before eventually developing it. In this case it was the former Metro Twin Drive In Theatre on the corner of Wellington and Blackburn Roads which operated as a Village twin drive in in later years before closing in 1984.

    From the next 30 years it was used as free student parking as opposed to the on site parking that required a permit with the floor slab of the snack bar (demolished in the 1990s), open drains and a few light poles as reminders of its former use until the Australian Synchrotron was built on site opening in 2007.

  4. Marcus Wong says:

    Found another Melbourne example – a little old lady’s house surrounded by a shopping centre car park in Camberwell.

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