What housing is Arden Station opening to?

What housing is Arden Station opening to?
Sean Car

Despite a soon-to-be-completed Metro Station, it’s a question that still remains unanswered.

Walking through the Arden Precinct today, one can’t help but wonder what the short-term future of this urban renewal zone looks like, and if an opportunity to make a meaningful dent in the current housing crisis is being squandered.

While the long-term future appears undoubtedly exciting, one which the state government says will comprise 34,000 jobs and 20,000 residents by 2051, the more immediate picture looks very unclear to the naked eye.

Around this time last year, the government announced that it was investing more than $5 billion to expand both the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Royal Women’s Hospitals in Arden, forming part of a new biomedical and health sciences hub.

And new Premier Jacinta Allan was in North Melbourne this month spruiking the nearing completion of Arden Station in 2025, which she said would have “access to high-quality, affordable housing” in the surrounding Arden precinct.

The Victorian Government confirmed on October 5 that Arden would be “the first of the five new Metro Tunnel stations to be completed, with landscaping and final work above ground to be done by the end of this year”.

But with less than two years until opening, even a surface level analysis of development in Arden doesn’t inspire much confidence that the new station will be opening to much new housing at all.

Opposite the station precinct at 86-108 Laurens St, a 14-storey commercial office project is the only building currently under construction in Arden, and the development pipeline in the rest of the precinct looks almost non-existent.

Most of the land in Arden is state government-owned, with Citywide, a wholly City of Melbourne-owned subsidiary, being the second largest land holder.


Despite this, the government gazetted planning controls for Arden in 2022 without any affordable housing controls – a moved lashed by City of Melbourne councillors last year.


Speaking at the Future Melbourne Committee (FMC) meeting on September 20 in 2022, Cr Rohan Leppert, said he was “pretty furious” about the government’s “blatant dismissal” of “every key recommendation of the [Victorian Planning Authority Project’s] standing advisory committee”.

“Where we’ve ended up is a planning package that will not meet the aspirations in the Arden vision and structure plan and in some instances won’t come anywhere close,” he said. “At the moment, there is no guarantee of any affordable housing in the precinct. That’s outrageous.”

While the community still awaits details on how affordable housing would be delivered in Arden, the state government’s Housing Statement announced in September, offered the closest insight in the year since the completion of the Arden Structure Plan …

“We’ll commence a market search for proposals to activate the Arden Precinct ahead of the Arden train station opening earlier in 2025,” the housing statement read. “Our intention is to partner with the private sector, industry and investors to start delivering the Arden precinct – with quality and affordable housing to support diverse residents and key workers, including affordable build-to-rent, build-to-sell, shared equity and key worker housing.”

Cr Leppert took to social media in response: “council requested 10 per cent of all homes [in Arden] be public; that was ignored too. So, what will the mechanism be?”

Just how “affordable” housing in Arden will be, how much of it we will see, and when, are all questions which remain unanswered. But sadly all signs are pointing to a lost opportunity, or at least one that is very quickly vanishing before our eyes. •

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