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The Victorian Planning Minister released a new strategic
plan for Melbourne in May. It’s called Plan Melbourne and
it’s a brilliant document. Not just for its vision – it looks
out to 2050 whereas Sydney’s draft plan looks out to 2030 – but
because of its substance.
There’s a new railway link to Tullamarine, a new subway
with new stations at Docklands, Montague and Domain, and
a resolve to densify the urban fabric along transportation
corridors. Heritage overlays still protect the city’s most worthy
houses and streetscapes. There are growth corridors planned to
accommodate new housing on the city’s fringes so Melbourne
will still deliver affordable housing.
But there’s something else in this plan that I like. That I really
like and that I think has relevance to other cities. And in fact I
wouldn’t be surprised if the draft plans for Sydney, Perth and
southeast Queensland, which are now under review, don’t nick
this Victorian idea.
Plan Melbourne makes provision for the redevelopment
of what planners call gateway suburbs. These are suburbs
sited at strategic access points to the CBD. The Melbourne
gateway suburbs are Richmond, South Yarra, Collingwood and
Brunswick. I ’m disappointed that North Melbourne wasn’t also
so designated, although perhaps the thinking was there’s so
much residential redevelopment slated for this suburb that it
didn’t need formal recognition as a gateway suburb.
Here’s the thing that I like about gateway suburbs. Remember,
I really like this so you have to be impressed. Or at least feign
being impressed. The gateway suburbs of, say, South Yarra
and Richmond are not only located more or less immediately
adjacent to the CBD and its environs but they also have
convergent railways lines.
Australian cities generally, and Melbourne in particular, have
radial railway networks that hub into the CBD. But in some cases
these railway spokes link up just before they get to the CBD.
In the South Yarra example, the Sandringham and Dandenong
lines converge. In the Richmond example, the Glen Waverley
and Lilydale lines merge before they enter the CBD.
As Melbourne grows from four million to seven million
residents over the next 40 years, the CBD job hub will expand
and the cost of car-based commuting will increase. Business
will then spill beyond the CBD and into places like Docklands,
but also I think to places that maximise public transport
access to the widest pool of employees. And outside the CBD
in Melbourne the greatest railway line convergence occurs at
Richmond and South Yarra. This also occurs at North Melbourne.
I’m going to call these places convergence suburbs and these
are exactly the sorts of places where property values can be
expected to rise. More businesses, more workers, more life; these
are the new inner-urban places of the future. Although to be fair
South Yarra has always been popular, so this leaves Richmond
and North Melbourne as suburbs to rise in value because of the
convergence of railway lines at these stations. Collingwood and
Brunswick don’t have the required CBD adjacency to make them
what I’d consider prime convergence suburbs.
This raises the question of what other convergence suburbs
are there in other large cities. In Sydney, several railway lines
converge to enter central station at Redfern and also a bit further
out in the triangle formed by the Erskineville, Newtown and
A good example of a convergence suburb on Brisbane’s
southside is Woolloongabba and especially the area around
the Park Road station, which then leads on to South Bank. On
Brisbane’s north side convergence occurs on the line between
Fortitude Valley and Bowen Hills.
The convergence logic doesn’t really apply to Perth since in
this city all radiating railway lines extend out from the CBD in
different directions. Adelaide’s railway lines converge in two
places before entering the main station on North Terrace, namely
Mile End to the west and Bowden and North Adelaide to the
northwest. By my ‘convergence logic’ the value of commercial
and residential land in these areas should improve over time.
Perhaps the best and most overlooked convergence suburb
on the Australian continent is located in Sydney. And that’s the
suburb of North Sydney. All residential and business activity
on the North Shore converges into this suburb that delivers
immediate access to the Sydney CBD. And the Pacific Highway
as well as several railway lines meets at North Sydney to cross
Some convergence suburbs like North Sydney and even South
Yarra are already well priced and well appreciated for their
access advantages but several others have yet to do so.
And all of this came about because of the thinking and the
logic behind what I regard as the best strategic planning
document in Australia today: Plan Melbourne. API
Founder and head of KPMG Demographics; firstname.lastname@example.org
The rise of inner-urban
æA good example of a
convergence suburb on Brisbane’s
southside is Woolloongabba.Æ
BERNARD SALT \\ DASH OF SALT
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