Final plan for Arden precinct revealed

Final plan for Arden precinct revealed
Spencer Fowler Steen

The Victorian Government has released its final Arden Structure Plan for a new precinct in inner-city Melbourne which will be home to 15,000 residents by 2050, but some have criticised the plan as “deeply flawed”.

With the completion of the Metro Tunnel and the new Arden Station by 2025, Arden will become a new destination for Melbourne with 34,000 employees by 2050, according to government figures.

But Deputy Leader of the Victorian Greens and Member for Melbourne Ellen Sandell said it was “outrageous” that the plan included no public or affordable housing, only one primary school, as well as “bulky” and “dense” buildings.

“It is outrageous that the Victorian Labor Government has released a plan for a new suburb of 15,000 people that doesn’t propose any public or affordable housing,” Ms Sandell said.

“The suburb will be home to as many people as Bairnsdale but will only have one primary school and no high school, despite schools around it already being full to the brim.”

“If the government actually did this properly, this new suburb could be designed well, with environmentally sustainable design, proper limits on density and heights, and affordable housing and schools. We don’t want to see another development where property developers make a mint at the expense of the community.”

According to the Victorian Government, the plan commits state and local governments to deliver a “significant” component of social, affordable and key-worker housing for Arden.

It will do this by “encouraging” the provision of six per cent of afforable housing housing in new developments at a 50 per cent discount to  registered housing associations, and by requiring that at least five per cent of all private housing be universally accessible.

The government has also confirmed that a state high school is currently being considered for the Arden-Macaulay area, adjacent to the Arden precinct.

The Arden Structure Plan includes “active” transport, including new bike lanes, space for trams on several major streets, and the new Arden Station.

Around 13 hectares of open space, along with a one-hectare neighbourhood park, is proposed for the area helping aid flood mitigation.

Pieces of land will also be identified for a new government primary school.

Former Lord Mayor and chairman of the North and West Melbourne Association (NWMA) Kevin Chamberlin said the proposal is “substantial” and would have a “profound” impact on West Melbourne, North Melbourne and Kensington.

“It’s a perfect opportunity to put a development in place that complements the new underground railway outlet, which is at the heart of this precinct,” he said.

“We need to be cautious about height and density and acknowledge the desperate need for public space in this area.”

Mr Chamberlin also said it was an “ideal opportunity” to have a mix of development that provides, in addition to residential, good employment opportunities for the local community.

“The association has for some time been promoting the concept of residential employment opportunities and public transport in this precinct, and it would appear the government has taken this onboard,” he said.

But the Victorian Greens claim that Arden’s built form controls will result in bulky buildings that will “overwhelm” the public domain, resulting in Arden becoming almost as dense as the CBD.

The Greens also highlight a lack of clear planning controls to require environmentally sustainable design for the benefit of workers and residents in the long term.

Victorian Planning Authority CEO Stuart Moseley encouraged everyone to have their say.

To make a submission visit engage.vic.gov.au/arden •

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