Strategic growth areas

Metropolitan Melbourne

In June 2007 an estimated 3.81 million people were living in metropolitan Melbourne, an increase of 61,700 people or (1.6 per cent) since 2006. Metropolitan Melbourne experienced the largest growth of all Australian capital cities in 2006-07 and is home to 73 per cent of Victoria's population.

Metropolitan Melbourne's population is expected to grow by one million people during the next 20 years to 2030. The municipality of Melbourne's population will increase by approximately 100,000 in the same period. Approximately 620,000 new homes will be built in the metropolitan area, with most of these being one or two person households.

Melbourne 2030 is the Victorian Government's 30-year strategy to plan and manage sustainable growth and development across the metropolitan area and surrounding regions.

Melbourne 2030 seeks to protect the liveability of established residential areas and to concentrate major development in strategic areas (or 'activity centres') and on underdeveloped land. While a good supply of land for development will be maintained in designated growth corridors, over time there will be a shift away from continued urban sprawl and more emphasis on increasing density in existing and inner metropolitan areas particularly along the Principle Public Transport Network (PPTN).

The Transit Cities program is a Victorian Government initiative. This program is aimed at strengthening regional cities and major suburban centres to help accommodate Melbourne's future population growth and manage the demand for housing and transport. Thirteen transit cities have been identified including Ballarat, Bendigo, Box Hill, Broadmeadows, Dandenong, Epping, Footscray, Frankston, Geelong, Latrobe/Warragul, Ringwood, Sydenham and Werribee.

To protect Melbourne's valuable conservation, farming and recreation areas from suburban sprawl, the Victorian Government established an independent statutory body, the Growth Areas Authority, to oversee planning and development in designated growth areas. Identified growth areas are included within the local government municipalities of Casey, Cardinia, Hume, Melton, Whittlesea and Wyndham. Victoria's fastest population growth is currently occurring in Wyndham, Casey and Melton.


Inner Melbourne Action Plan

The inner Melbourne region covers the municipalities of Melbourne, Port Phillip, Yarra and Stonnington (west of Kooyong Road). This is an area of common interests and issues. Together, the four inner-city local governments (Melbourne, Stonnington, Port Phillip and Yarra) have developed an Inner Melbourne Action Plan.

This inner Melbourne region was largely developed before the private car became a dominant feature of daily life and displays the characteristics of walkable neighbourhoods - higher density developments with a mix of land uses, local services and amenities, and extensive rail-based public transport networks - which were the norm of pre-car development.

The Inner Melbourne Action Plan builds on the role inner Melbourne plays as the primary business, retail, sport and entertainment hub for the metropolitan area and the state. The plan addresses a broad range of regional and urban management issues including housing density; activity centres; tourist precincts; public transport, pedestrian, cycling and road networks; the physical environment and character of the inner area; major sporting and recreation facilities; and business development.

Since 2006, a formally constituted alliance of the participating councils has been overseeing the ongoing development and implementation of the Inner Melbourne Action Plan.

The municipality of Melbourne

Residential growth

The population of the municipality of Melbourne has grown dramatically over the last decade. Between 1996 and 2006, the municipality's population increased 57 per cent. Approximately 86,000 City of Melbourne residents now live in 48,000 dwellings.

The municipality of Melbourne had the fourth largest population growth rate at 5.8 per cent (4,500 people) of all Victorian municipalities during 2006-07. Within the municipality of Melbourne, Southbank and Docklands grew by 1,400 people (9.5 per cent) and the central business district grew by 790 people (6.2 per cent). The rest of the municipality's population grew by 2,300 people (4.7 per cent) during 2006-07.

By 2020, the municipality of Melbourne's population could reach 140,000 people, living in more than 73,000 dwellings. Projecting further into the future, a capacity analysis (conducted in response to Melbourne 2030) estimates the municipality of Melbourne's capacity for 2030 is approximately 100,000 dwellings. The realisation of this figure will depend on demand and affordability.

Across the municipality, locations exist that provide opportunities for residential and economic growth. The residential population of the central city (comprising Docklands, Southbank and the central business district) is expected to increase to 58,100 by 2020, in 15,500 new households.

The central city is an area of continual urban renewal with a focus on major developments and redevelopment on vacant and under-used sites, sites with outdated land uses or buildings that have reached the end of their lifespan.

Business growth

The built area of the city has dramatically increased in size during the past decade, with more than 100 new buildings constructed. In the past, the majority of large buildings were located in the central business district. With the creation of the Docklands and Southbank precincts, the spread of large buildings has widened.

The municipality has a range of major land uses. Of a total 44,662,415 m2 land and floorspace, 65 per cent is built space. Office, parking and private accommodation are the most prominent floorspace uses, followed by storage, entertainment and education/research. During the past four years, the strongest floorspace growth was recorded in private accommodation, office and private parking. Gross floorspace under construction has been gradually declining, which suggests the construction boom may be moderating. In the four years to 2006, floorspace under renovation declined even more substantially from 513,176 to 329,406 m2.

Of the 882,500 m2 of land under construction or renovation, 30 per cent is intended for accommodation and 24 per cent for office purposes.

The municipality has almost 14,000 business establishments (business locations), almost 1,500 (or 10 per cent) more than in 2004. The municipality of Melbourne's economy is booming with record employment growth. In the two years to 2006, total employment in the municipality increased by 10.6 per cent, or by about 35,000 employees, compared to only 2 per cent growth between 2002-04. Approximately 366,000 people work in the municipality but only about 297,000 of these travel to work here on an average day.

Guiding principles for growth

In the context of a continually growing and changing city it is important that the City of Melbourne helps enhance the municipality's liveability, sustainability and economic vitality, while protecting its valued heritage, culture and assets. In order to achieve this, the following guiding principles for the management of growth and change require that all new development will:

  • enhance the city structure and urban form by respecting its context and heritage, and demonstrating the highest architectural quality
  • demonstrate what a truly sustainable city can achieve in terms of water, energy use, carbon emissions, social sustainability, mixed-use development and high quality public space
  • improve physical integration and connection to the environment including through transport systems, cycling and walking routes
  • enhance community integration by being accessible, welcoming, safe as well as providing improved amenity, health and well being outcomes such as community meeting spaces
  • preserve places and precincts of heritage and cultural significance
  • minimise the impacts of developments and new land uses on residential amenity
  • ensure residential and mixed use developments increase residential density, manage housing change and respond to the needs of a diverse population and provide a range of housing options.


Central Business District

The central business district (CBD) will continue to support business, retail, office, entertainment and residential growth. It is the primary location for higher-order business activities in Victoria and has the capacity, facilities and infrastructure to support growth in all these sectors.

From 2004, the municipality of Melbourne has strong office construction growth with net supply additions of around 175,300 m2 per annum. Based on planning and construction data from April 2008, there is still high demand with the greatest amount of office supply being in the CBD (643,668 m2). This is followed by the Docklands (559,281 m2) and Southbank (120,962 m2).

Melbourne has also expanded rapidly as an entertainment and cultural centre with an increase in bars, restaurants, clubs, galleries and cultural facilities. There are 1,500 bars, cafés and restaurants in the central business district area alone and a multitude of entertainment, cultural and dining venues in its inner suburbs.

The CBD's greatest strengths lie in its number of heritage buildings, pedestrian scale and tree lined streets built on the Hoddle Grid which laid out our pattern of streets and laneways in 1837. Its streets, laneways and other public spaces are full of life and intrinsic to Melbourne's physical character.

The CBD is also a popular residential address and residents make an important contribution to the city. In 2008, there were 18,000 residents in the CBD. In 2007, the municipality's largest residential growth was in the CBD (754) and the largest number of dwellings under construction was in the CBD (1,325).

There are many opportunities for further growth in the CBD. Growth and development must continue to complement the form and structure of the city.

Major road and boulevard corridors

The major roads and boulevards in the municipality such as St Kilda Road, Punt Road, Victoria Parade, Royal Parade, Wellington Parade and Flemington Road are key corridors of activity and transport. Many were conceived historically as grand boulevards leading into the city. Most currently exhibit a mix of residential, employment, retail and cultural activities with excellent tram, bus and private transport infrastructure.

There is considerable scope to consolidate high quality buildings along these urban activity corridors. They should continue to develop and intensify with a mix of uses and activities and, in many cases, fulfil the vision of their creators - as high quality, tree-lined boulevard streetscapes leading into the central city - fronted with fine, new and old, high density buildings, scaled and proportioned to suit the grand streetscape.

The streetscapes should have a strong orientation to generous and high quality provision for pedestrians and cyclists and well designed public transport stops.


The redevelopment of the Docklands precinct began in 1991 overseen by the Victorian Government's sustainable land development agency, VicUrban in partnership with private developers and other agencies. Built on the site of a former industrial port, Docklands is a new mixed-use inner city suburb designed for living, commerce, recreation and entertainment. Some of Victoria's largest and most sustainable office buildings are found at Docklands along with residential towers, a sporting stadium, a number of entertainment and recreation facilities and open spaces featuring bike paths, parks and public art.

With its prime waterfront location on Victoria Harbour, Docklands is Melbourne's largest 'brown field' redevelopment project. Around 30 per cent of Docklands' 220ha area is completed or is currently under construction. All development is expected to be completed by 2020.

Today, more than 4,000 people call Docklands home and over 7,000 people work there. By 2020, it is expected that Docklands will:

  • become home to approximately 20,000 residents
  • welcome more than 40,000 workers each day
  • attract more than 20 million visitors each year.

As the number of people who live, work and play in Docklands increases, the pressure to create stronger communities supported by appropriate infrastructure, a sustainable business environment and an attractive, lively waterfront precinct will increase.

The City of Melbourne will continue working closely with VicUrban (as the development authority) to:

  • create a vibrant and engaged community within Docklands that enhances the standing of Docklands as an international example of waterfront urban renewal and ensures the future of Docklands as a key destination within the central city for people to live, work and visit
  • improve the provision of community services, infrastructure and recreational opportunities at Docklands, developing and implementing a joint City of Melbourne and VicUrban Docklands Community Infrastructure Plan
  • provide an enjoyable and functional physical environment at Docklands by making recommendations to VicUrban on the ongoing use, design and development of public open space, waterways and infrastructure through the preparation of a Public Space Strategy for Docklands and the Docklands Waterways Strategic Plan 2008-2018
  • strengthen the sense of community, create a vibrant and active waterfront ambience, and support small to medium sized businesses by delivering a strong and consistent program of events, marketing and tourism initiatives designed to activate Docklands in the short and long term.


Southbank is largely the result of urban renewal programs implemented by successive Victorian Governments since the 1980s. The area has developed rapidly, starting with the opening of Southgate in 1991. Construction of the Westgate Freeway, CityLink, Southgate, Crown Entertainment Complex, the Melbourne Exhibition Centre and significant residential development all happened within a short period. Southbank now accommodates a mixture of land uses dominated by commercial and entertainment activities along the river, with high-density housing to the south. Southbank also has commuter and freight roads of metropolitan significance.

Southbank is also Victoria's major arts and cultural centre. It is home to the Victorian College of the Arts, the Malthouse Theatre, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, the Victorian Arts Centre and the National Gallery of Victoria.

Southbank is one of the major residential growth areas within the municipality of Melbourne and provides significant residential development opportunities.

Several Southbank sites are yet to be redeveloped. Southbank's population is expected to increase from 8,700 in 2007 to 15,000 in 2020. In April 2007, almost 2,000 new dwellings were under construction, with a further 1,500 dwellings in various planning stages.

The focus of most recent efforts to improve Southbank has been on the river's edge and its surrounds. Away from the river, public amenity is compromised by car-dominated roads, a lack of street life, discontinuous walking routes and little open public space. Community services, facilities and spaces (indoor meeting and outdoor recreational) must cater for the needs of the local community now and for the projected population growth. The Southbank Plan prepared by the Victorian Government's Department of Planning and Community Development in partnership with the City of Melbourne, focuses on addressing these issues and improving Southbank's public spaces.

The City of Melbourne will continue to work with the Victorian Government on the implementation of the Southbank Plan.

The Sturt Street Cultural Spine is 'Project One' within the Southbank Plan and includes the reinvigoration of the Sturt Street cultural spine as the vibrant cultural and community heart of Southbank, including the construction of a major new pedestrian ramp linking the Arts Centre plaza with the Sturt Street cultural precinct. This will create a major activity strip the length of Sturt Street and link all the major arts and cultural institutions (existing and proposed) in the Southbank precinct.


E-Gate is an under-used tract of land occupying more than 20ha on the fringe of the central city, making it one of the largest remaining development sites within the municipality of Melbourne. The precinct is located in North Melbourne east of Moonee Ponds Creek and is bounded by Footscray Road, Dudley Street and the rail yards. The site is situated next to significant transport nodes, including North Melbourne Railway Station, tram lines, CityLink and the Port of Melbourne.

Current transport, maintenance and administration activities on the site may not represent appropriate long-term land uses. While E-Gate is still in its early planning and investigation stages, it has potential to be a strategic redevelopment site with a location favourable to commercial uses, public transport and residential communities. However, any investigation of potential future opportunities must consider how much land the city needs for industry and preserve long-term opportunities.

North Melbourne Railway Station sits at the edge of West Melbourne, isolated from Docklands. The Victorian Government is relocating the station entrance one block south to the intersection of Dryburgh and Adderley Streets, creating a new focal point and potentially freeing up the existing station entry building for new uses. The station itself would continue as an interchange between lines, with relatively few passengers accessing the local area.

The development of E-Gate could however redefine North Melbourne Railway Station as an important access point for residents and destinations in all directions. New connections across the rail yards would enable the station to serve the north end of Docklands as well as the E-Gate area. New bus and tram routes could establish the station as a public transport hub.

Future redevelopment of the E-Gate precinct must be sensitive to the challenges presented by the adjacent busy rail yards and the Port of Melbourne while demonstrating best practice in sustainable urban design and transport options.

Central city south-east edge precinct (Jolimont Rail Yards)

Formally known as the Jolimont Rail Yards, the remaining sections of exposed rail tracks to the east of Federation Square and running south-east through the sports and entertainment precinct create a major physical barrier between the south-east edge of Melbourne's central city grid, the neighbouring river corridor and the expanse of facilities and activities of the sports and entertainment precinct.

The central city's south-east edge is defined by the Russell Street extension to the west, the Exhibition Street extension to the east and Birrarung Marr to the south. The past 10 years have seen this section of the city transformed from an area dominated by rail yards, a scattering of isolated developments and a myriad other back-of-house service facilities.

The central city south-east edge offers the opportunity to continue to build on the significant public and private investments that have already been made in this part of the city and improve the physical connection between the central city and the river corridor.

Its prominent location requires that only development of the highest architectural quality and cultural significance should be considered. A sustainable mixed-use development should build on significant public and private investments already made in this part of the city.


Parkville, in the north of the city is dominated by Royal Park and comprises mainly residential and institutional uses. Almost 1,800 residents were living in Parkville in 2006. The stability of the residential population is dictated by the small areas available for residential use and the heritage significance of its residential neighbourhoods.

Parkville is a major employment centre with around 23,000 people working there in 2006. Almost half were working in health services (14,362), with education the second largest employer (5,113).

Many of Parkville's major institutions, such as the University of Melbourne and the Royal Melbourne Hospital, have been associated with Parkville for more than 100 years. Along with health, education and research, Parkville also accommodates residential, commercial and public land uses. Throughout Parkville's history, diverse land uses have coexisted successfully, contributing to the suburb's attractiveness and vibrancy.

The sustained success of its key institutions and its attractiveness as a place to live and work has driven a continual process of growth and change. This process has accelerated in recent years and is expected to continue with the recently established Bio21 Institute, the redevelopment of the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Royal Children's Hospital, the relocation of the Royal Women's Hospital and the potential redevelopment of the former Dental Hospital site.

The Victorian Government released the Parkville Precinct Strategic Plan, developed to assure the precinct's important role in health care, research and education. This 10-year plan will guide Parkville's development, strongly positioning it to take advantage of its institutions, established links, advanced infrastructure and supportive environment.

The existing residential areas of Parkville include significant heritage areas and capacity for growth is limited. South Parkville is an intact historic area of national importance. Change in Parkville needs to be carefully considered and managed with Parkville's heritage characteristics in mind. The main opportunity for growth is along the Flemington Road and Royal Parade boulevards, which have some potential for further intensification of development as noted above in the section on 'corridor' growth areas.

Parkville Gardens

The former Commonwealth Games Village is being transformed into an integrated community including both private and social housing. The project is designed to be part of a legacy of social benefits left by the Commonwealth Games.
The 20-hectare development includes:

  • 155 detached homes, 28 townhouses and 103 apartments
  • the retention and refurbishment of 11 heritage buildings
  • the creation of wetlands and new parklands.

The Victorian Government will implement its policies on environmentally sustainable design, social housing, disabled access and community services. The design and construction of the development will minimise its ecological footprint and demonstrate practices to set a benchmark for residential developments in Victoria.

Additional project elements planned to be completed over the next few years include:

  • an aged care precinct adjacent to Parkville Gardens (planned for completion in mid 2009), which will predominantly serve socially and financially disadvantaged elderly people in the northern metropolitan region
  • a community garden adjacent to the William and Park Streets road link
  • an innovative set of apartment buildings along the western boundary of the site that complement the surrounding area and enhance the existing Melbourne Gateway.

CUB site (including the RMIT Design Hub)

The Minister for Planning has approved the redevelopment of the former Carlton and United Brewery (CUB) site bounded by Victoria, Swanston, Queensberry and Bouverie Streets in Carlton. The site master plan reflects the site location at the edge of the central city and reinforces Swanston Street as the central civic pathway to the city and the Shine of Remembrance.

The master plan includes:

  • 6 new high-rise buildings, including the RMIT Design Hub on the corner of Swanston and Victoria Streets, together totalling about 286,000 m2 in gross floor area
  • the retention and re-use of the heritage structures on the site
  • a broad mix of land uses including office, residential, retail (supermarket), education (RMIT Design Hub) and entertainment
  • built form massing diagrams including preferred maximum building heights
  • a network of diverse publicly accessible spaces through the site.

An exceptional redevelopment of this site that complements its historical significance should be achieved while improving linkages between the central city and Parkville/South Carlton.

Carlton public housing redevelopment

Home to more than 12,000 residents, Carlton is a unique, culturally diverse part of Melbourne and an important precinct for tourism, education, hospitality and business.

Carlton is also home to three public housing sites:

  • Lygon/Rathdowne Streets (existing public housing site)
  • Elgin/Nicholson Streets (existing public housing site)
  • Keppel/Cardigan Streets (former Queen Elizabeth Centre, currently vacant).

The Victorian Government's Office of Housing is undertaking a major redevelopment of these three sites to improve the quality of public housing and make a positive contribution to the streetscapes of Carlton. The redevelopment will see 13 medium-density housing blocks demolished and replaced with a combination of approximately 245 public and around 550 private apartments. These will be accessible for people with disabilities and will include sustainability measures to help with water and energy saving. Existing high-rise towers will be retained.

The redevelopment aims to reintegrate the estates and its buildings within the Carlton neighbourhood. The public/private housing mix will create a diversity of income levels, household types and cultural backgrounds typical of most of Melbourne's neighbourhoods. New landscaped parks, open spaces and bicycle and pedestrian pathways will be created for the enjoyment of estate residents and the local community.

Demolition is underway and the project is expected to be completed by 2016.

The Port of Melbourne

The Port of Melbourne occupies more than 500 ha of land in the west of the city. The Port of Melbourne Corporation has developed plans that envisage growth and enhanced connections with major transport infrastructure. The Port Development Plan estimates that in the next 20 years, an additional five berths and 25ha of terminal space is needed. The port impacts significantly on the municipality of Melbourne, playing a central role in the city's transport hub and network.

The Port of Melbourne is Australia's busiest port, handling almost 40 per cent of the nation's international container trade. Ranked among the world's top 50 ports, the Port of Melbourne is Australia's international trading gateway for more than 40 shipping lines, providing access to over 300 international markets.12

A key driver of economic growth, the port contributes more than $2.2 billion to the Victorian economy each year and $2.5 billion to the national economy annually. It provides jobs for more than 13,700 Victorians and indirectly generates jobs for a further 62,000 people.3

The Port of Melbourne is expecting substantial growth over the next 30 years and anticipates:

  • 4 times more containers
  • a 3 fold increase in the volume of Bass Strait trade
  • more than 2.5 times the number of new motor vehicles (subject to a suitable location for this trade being found)
  • double the quantity of bulk products.

The Port of Melbourne Corporation is the strategic manager of channels in Port Phillip Bay. The deepening of access channels in the bay will allow the port to accommodate deep draught vessels. 4

Due to the port's increased capacity to manage cargo, supporting infrastructure must be maintained and expanded. Melbourne Port@L is a long-term strategic planning initiative of the Victorian Government to improve the efficiency and capacity of the Port of Melbourne. Melbourne Port@L will integrate the port, the adjacent Dynon rail precinct and other rail terminals used for the collection and distribution of containers into a single inter-modal hub and will improve road and rail links from the port to the outer metropolitan area and regional Victoria.

It is critical for Melbourne and Victoria that the Port of Melbourne's ongoing operations and viability and longer term growth be supported, and that integrated transport networks and transport interchanges be developed, including the increased use of rail for freight movement.

See also

  • Docklands Planning Area Strategic Statement, Vic Urban, Date: July 2000
  • Docklands Integration and Design Excellence, Vic Urban, Date: July 2000
  • Places for Everyone, Vic Urban and City of Melbourne, Date: May 2002
  • ESD Guidelines, Vic Urban, Date: May 2006
  • Water Sensitive Urban Design Guidelines, City of Melbourne, Date: 2005
  • Central City, South East Edge Precinct Urban Design Guidelines, Department Sustainability and Environment, 2006
  • Parkville Precinct Strategic Plan 2006
  • Southbank Plan 2007


1 , 4 : Port Development Plan 2006 Consultation Draft, August 2006.

2 : Cargo Systems Top 100 August 2005

3 : 2001 MPC Economic Impact Study.

Topic attachments
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
jpgjpg Arts_centre.jpg manage 872.9 K 02 Jun 2008 - 17:19 DaleBowerman Image sourced from the Southbank Plan. Jointly produced by the Department of Planning and Community Development and the City of Melbourne.
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Topic revision: r93 - 11 Oct 2012 - 10:51:31 - OnlineContentEditorCityOfMelbourne
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