Council blueprint predicts boom growth in Arden, Macaulay

Council blueprint predicts boom growth in Arden, Macaulay
David Schout

Arden and Macaulay will boom in the next 20 years and see a huge growth in residents and workers according to a once-per-decade strategy released by the City of Melbourne.

The council’s Municipal Planning Strategy (MPS), last updated in 2010, includes an updated city vision that focused on big expansion in areas north-west of the CBD.

According to the strategy, industrial and former industrial areas like Arden and Macaulay (plus Fishermans Bend) were “undergoing significant change in function, form and character” and would “accommodate a significant portion of the growth and change in the municipality over the next 20 years”.

West Melbourne would also be transformed in the next two decades and is proposed to become “the new Fitzroy or Collingwood for the west of the city”.

“The growth of the municipality is now moving west, onto the lower, wetter plains,” the strategy stated.

“The urban renewal precincts of the city which are transforming from industrial areas to mixed use areas offer unparalleled opportunities to reimagine our future landscapes and built form.”

By 2040, Arden’s local population will increase more than tenfold, from 441 (recorded in 2020) to 5061, while worker numbers will similarly surge, from 1761 to 9896.

In Macaulay, resident numbers will rise from 2725 to 9311, while local workers will swell from 2821 to 7517.

Across the two urban renewal areas, nestled in between North Melbourne and Kensington, the number of residents and workers will surge by almost 25,000 compared to present figures.

The MPS, which introduces policies that guide both land use and development decisions, included an updated vision on all suburbs within the City of Melbourne.

While neighbourhoods like North Melbourne and Kensington were “established areas” that would “continue to be nurtured as high amenity inner urban neighbourhoods”, the strategy had a distinct focus on areas west and northwest of the CBD.



It predicted that Arden would gain a reputation as a “highly liveable and sustainable precinct will make it a magnet for innovative industries”.

“It will have a lively public realm, high quality and affordable places to live, community hubs, a new primary school, diverse open spaces, and a walking and cycling network centred on the new Arden Station,” it stated.

The vision for Macaulay was similarly ambitious, predicting it would become a “compact, mid-rise, walkable neighbourhood”.

“Resilient natural systems will feature, with a revitalised Moonee Ponds Creek and a network of people-focused streets and green spaces. A diversity of uses, in new and adaptively reused buildings, will deliver a thriving neighbourhood supporting a growing population.”

The council’s planning chair Cr Nicholas Reece predicted West Melbourne would become a mixed-use area that is respectful of its industrial heritage, much like nearby suburbs to the east.

“Suburbs like West Melbourne will transition,” he said.

“They’ve got a strong industrial history — they’ll continue to be a place where a lot of people are employed but will also take on a much more residential character, becoming like the new Fitzroy or Collingwood for the west of the city.”


Population projections within the strategy predicted West Melbourne’s resident numbers to more than double, from 8262 to 17,156 in 2040, while workers would also swell from 4783 to 7772.


While not introducing an entirely new vision for the future of the city, the MPS rather consolidates the council’s already-endorsed policies (from recent years) related to planning matters, such as the Affordable Housing Strategy and the Transport Strategy 2030.

The council’s planning chair Cr Nicholas Reece said the MPS was a “once in a decade opportunity to chart a course for what Melbourne will look like in the decades ahead.”


“We’re planning out to 2040,” Cr Reece said.


“Modern Melbourne, as we know it, is not just a city that happened by magic. It’s the result of very deliberate, and strategic, decision-making by the city and by the state. It’s the product of one good decision building on another.”

Deputy planning chair Cr Rohan Leppert said the strategy would play a hugely influential role in upcoming planning matters and meant that the “unholy friction” between local and state governments planning agendas could be managed.

“[That relationship] can be managed in a way that there’s some certainty and some understanding by all parties in the planning system, especially local residents of the City of Melbourne, as to what the government’s agenda is and why, and how these different pieces come together,” Cr Leppert said.

“If you think about how much the city has changed in the past 10 years, it’s that second role — not the ‘here’s our ambitious statement for the future’ — but how do we consolidate all of those policies and tell the clearest narrative that we possibly can about where development goes across the municipality and why.”

The council will now seek authorisation from the new Minister for Planning Lizzie Blandthorn before commencing public exhibition and will seek input from community members across the municipality.

“We’re expecting bouquets [but] we’re probably expecting brickbats as well — that’s the nature of community consultation and it’s so important that we get it on this exercise,” the Deputy Lord Mayor said. •

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