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University case study of the failed Camberwell Railway Station Redevelopment.

The Age

What is the case about?

The Camberwell Station redevelopment was a proposal, many years in the making, to build three and nine storey towers beside and above the 1918 Camberwell Railway Station which services the Camberwell Junction shopping strip on Burke Road and surrounding residential areas (CSTP Pty Ltd v Boroondara CC & Ors, 2009). The development had been in planning since before 2002 by the State Government owned Victorian Rail Track Corporation (VicTrack) which owns the railway station and adjoining land. The development would have seen a mix of lower level business with residential above, but faced criticism from residents, the Boroondara Council and from high profile individuals, including actor Geoffrey Rush, as the development would have been much taller than other structures along the shopping strip, which generally sees buildings of only two storeys, and would have almost totally blocked the view of the railway station from Burke Road. The dispute came to a head in 2009 with a hearing at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) that ruled in the favour of VicTrack and their chosen developer, but with a requirement that some design alterations be made. However, the development was shelved in 2012 following the election of a conservative Government two years earlier (Carey, 2012).

What are the substantive issues in the dispute?

The substantive issues came down to differing policy at the state and local government levels. Policy of the state would like to “facilitate residential and commercial development in existing activity centres with good access to public transport” (CSTP Pty Ltd v Boroondara CC & Ors, 2009). This is consistent with a global governmental push for high density urban living along high capacity transport corridors as cities become evermore populated. In 2010 the then Labor State Government made moves to amend planning schemes to encourage “high-rise corridors” along railway, tram and bus routes, moves that were opposed by the Liberal-National opposition who believed that the policy would lead to “unliveable” conditions (Johnston, 2010).

Camberwell’s Boroondara Council and Boroondara Residents Action Group (BRAG) appear to have agreed with this sentiment and had further worries about neighbourhood character in the “leafy east”. The opponents of the nine-storey station development proposed an alternative development which would have seen a low level structure, consistent with the height of existing Burke Road buildings, and only on the southern side of the site (BRAG, 2009). Whether or not such a development would be cost-effective is unknown, especially considering the cost of railway works including the removal of train stabling and accommodating those trains elsewhere.

(This answer should have made reference to “substantive issues” as set out in Planning Australia by Thompson and Maginn).

What are the planning issues?

At the zoning level, the proposed development was not in breach of planning law as agreed by VCAT. The railway station was zoned as a Public Use Zone (PUZ) and was adjoined by areas zoned Business as well as Burke Road which was a category one main road (CSTP Pty Ltd v Boroondara CC & Ors, 2009). VCAT made note of seemingly conflicting Council planning schemes. The proposed development had been in the planning since at least 2002 and would have been relying on an old 1993 structure plan which came to clash with a new plan released by Council in 2008. The 1993 plan appeared visionary for its time as it pre-dates the Melbourne 2030 strategy, which called for major development in “Principal Activity Centres”, as it encouraged “significant development” at the Camberwell Railway Station site. The new 2008 plan encouraged “low scale” development at the station (Camberwell Junction Structure Plan, 2008, p. 8) but was released the year after the developers had applied to Council for a planning permit. As demonstrated, this new Council plan clashed with State Government strategies that aimed “to create a more sustainable urban form for metropolitan Melbourne” which would see development of a “high level of intensity and scale” in activity centres, close to public transport (CSTP Pty Ltd v Boroondara CC & Ors, 2009).

How has the planning system been applied here?

VCAT made many notes encouraging a balance between state and local government policy frameworks, but ultimately resolved the conflict by attempting to satisfy planning scheme “clause 11.01” that states, “It is the State Government’s expectation that planning and responsible authorities will endeavour to integrate the range of policies relevant to the issues to be determined and balance conflicting objectives in favour of net community benefit and sustainable development…” (CSTP Pty Ltd v Boroondara CC & Ors, 2009). “Net community benefit” and “sustainable development” are the key planning issues for the site at Camberwell Junction. The 2002 Melbourne 2030 plan listed the shopping strip as one of Melbourne’s 25 “Principal Activity Centres” and as such is an area where “concentration of new development” is encouraged (Department of Infrastructure, 2002, p. 33). That, coupled with the 1993 structure plan, made it clear that the proposed development at the Camberwell Railway Station should go ahead. The main limitation of this process was community consultation. Planning applications are judged according to planning law and policy and, where the developer fails to provide adequate consultation, planning assessors can be overrun with complaints that are irrelevant to their main purpose.

What are your thoughts on the effectiveness of the planning system to resolve these disputes?

For the Camberwell Railway Station redevelopment the planning system was effective in solving the core planning dispute, that being differing policy at state and local government levels, but it fails to provide the community with an opportunity to express their thoughts on the design of the development itself rather than whether the development is in breach of planning law and policy. The community consultation “burden” falls onto the developer who really should be required to provide a constructive level of community involvement for a development in place of high community significance. Allowing the community to have their say will result in the best outcome as participants can feel as though they have been included in the design process and can take a piece of joint pride in the result. Failure to allow this may lead to community resentment and possible political interference where the project is not bipartisan.

In 2013, around three years after the election of a conservative State Government, a raft of new residential zones were brought into effect (Peterson, 2014). Boroondara Council moved to apply the most restrictive zone in the new suite to a huge area under its authority. The measure restricted developments to eight metres high and allowed councils to determine minimum lot sizes. While this did not apply to the Camberwell Railway Station site, it can be seen as a possible retaliation against developments like that proposed for Camberwell Junction and demonstrates the importance of bringing the community with you in the development process.

References

BRAG. (2009, January 31). Camberwell Station BRAG Plan vs Govt Plan [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFfwQJLqJ9s

Carey, A. (2012, October 3). Camberwell station development shelved. The Age. Retrieved from http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/camberwell-station-development-shelved-20121003-26yls.html

City of Boroondara. (2008). Camberwell Junction Structure Plan – Adopted by Council 27 October 2008. Retrieved from https://www.boroondara.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2017-05/Camberwell-Junction-Structure-Plan.pdf

CSTP Pty Ltd v Boroondara CC & Ors 2009 VCAT 1078

Department of Infrastructure. (2002). Melbourne 2030: Planning for Sustainable Growth: October 2002. Retrieved from https://www.planning.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/20466/Melbourne-2030-Planning-for-sustainable-growth-text-only-version.pdf

Johnston, M. (2010, June 22). New laws promote high rise corridors. Herald Sun. Retrieved from http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/new-laws-promote-high-rise-corridors/news-story/28d558817353a8f40ae002cdeb534e79?sv=32539b83cc57eedc1318ed89e24737da

Peterson, C. (2014, February 18). NEW RESIDENTIAL ZONES – WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR MELBOURNE [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://urban.melbourne/planning/2014/02/18/new-residential-zones-what-does-this-mean-for-melbourne

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Accessing Melbourne Airport by public transport from Melbourne’s west is a pain. It really should not be difficult since the airport is actually in Melbourne’s (north-) west, but there is no easy bus from western transport hubs, not even from Sunshine which services a Metro rail corridor and two (potentially three) V/Line country rail routes.

For decades now the community has been calling for a train to the airport but, probably due to a whole range of factors, it is yet to be built. However, if it were to be built it would most likely run via Sunshine as seen in Public Transport Victoria’s Network Development Plan.

airport-rail-ndp

There is no reason why the potential rail route could not be serviced right now by a direct and frequent bus, at least one every 20 minutes. It could run directly north from Sunshine Station using McIntyre Road, the Western Ring Road and the new Airport Drive extension. The route is about 16 kilometres long according to Google Maps and would take 20 to 30 minutes depending on traffic and passenger loading.

airport-bus

The route need not be express and could also service locals in Sunshine North and airport workers stationed near Airport and Melrose drives. It would also work best as a myki ticketed service so users would not be discouraged by a requirement for multiple tickets transferring between train and bus.

The bus would provide reasonably easy access to the Airport from Bendigo, Castlemaine, Kyneton, Woodend and Gisborne in the state’s north-west, but only if trains on the Bendigo Line stop at Sunshine which none currently do. The bus would also provide access from Ballarat, Ballan, Bacchus Marsh and Melton heading directly west, as well as, and probably most usefully, the suburbs of Geelong as well as Lara and Tarniet in the south-west.

Everyone travelling from these places would otherwise need to travel all the way into Melbourne and use the costly Sky Bus service, use often inconvenient once-a-day airport shuttle busses from their local town or get a friend or family member to drive them to the airport.

If you think this is a good idea let your member of state parliament know and contact PTV, too.

On Monday Marcus Wong found a media release from the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority (MMRA) that announced the construction of a third platform at West Footscray Station on the Sunbury line as part of the Metro Rail Tunnel project.

The Metro Rail Tunnel is the proposed construction of a cross-city rail line connecting the Sunbury line to the Pakenham/Cranbourne line via a tunnel through the centre of Melbourne. It is needed to address capacity constraints that are forecast to cripple the City Loop.

On the face of it such a side project looks odd. Why terminate trains so close the city, surely there is not the passenger demand for a whole train just from West Footscray to Melbourne? But looking deeper it appears the MMRA is looking for a way to terminate the many trains from the Pakenham/Cranbourne line, not all of which are needed yet on the Sunbury line. West Footscray is the first location heading west from the city with enough room to terminate these extra trains without delaying the mainline or acquiring property.

The frequency for the Metro Tunnel would still be in planning, but we do know that the line will be fitted with high capacity, in-cab signalling which elsewhere in the world allows 30 trains per hour, or one train every two minutes. As seen from Public Transport Victoria’s Network Development Plan, it is intended to run lines though the tunnel that are yet to be constructed as well as the existing Sunbury, Pakenham and Cranbourne lines. From the west, lines that would use the tunnel are Melton, Sunbury and the Airport. From the east; Rowville, Pakenham and Cranbourne. This effectively creates three end-to-end lines.

So, 30 trains per hour divided by three lines is 10 trains per hour per line. 60 minutes divided by 10 trains gives a frequency of one train every six minutes per line. It is unlikely that there will need to be trains every six minutes to the end of all these lines so it would also be expected for some of these trains to terminate short at Watergardens and Westall.

Before these new lines are running, however, there will be more trains coming from the Pakenham/Cranbourne line than would be needed on the Sunbury line and this brings us back to the third platform at West Footscray and the problem it solves for the MMRA.

I have always known that Melbourne’s rail system is a bit confusing to new users due to the irregularity between line names and the ultimate destination of the train. This was never really a problem for me because I have memorised all the places which Melbourne trains terminate (and there’s quite a few in peak that bear no resemblance to the line name), but when I was trying to tell my Dad how to get to Watsonia Station on the weekend I hit a hurdle.

Watsonia is on the Hurstbridge line and, due to the way the line is engineered, not all Hurstbridge line trains can go all the way to Hurstbridge. Instead Metro alternate the terminus between Hurstbridge, Eltham, Greensborough and Macleod. I couldn’t expect my Dad to remember all of those names so I had to look up a train that he would probably connect with and told him just to look for that one.

Since not all visitors to Melbourne have my telephone number, the above solution is just not reasonable, but clearly identifying the lines with a letter (and number in some circumstances) would be.

I decided it would be best to letter the lines alphabetically and clockwise starting with Williamstown. This is simpler and easier than line-significant lettering (for example; S for Sunbury, F for Frankston) because some lines start with the same letter as other lines. This also removes the need to re-letter a line if the main terminus is changed.

Let us begin.

A for Williamstown, Altona Loop and Werribee

Newport

This first example also showcases the use of numbers and letters. I thought it would make sense that lines which share a significant part of their route should also share a letter with the ultimate terminus identified by a number. This allows someone travelling to Scienceworks, for example, to be told to catch “any A train and hop off at Spotswood”. But I should note that most Werribee trains run express through Spotswood in peak.

B and C for Reserved

Geelong-Melton

Placeholders for Geelong and Bacchus Marsh.

D for Sunbury

Sunbury

Every second Sunbury line train terminates at Watergardens so identifying this line with a letter is extra useful.

E for Reserved

Airport

I was tempted not to reserve the letter E. Will we ever get a train to the airport?

F for Craigieburn

Craigieburn

Some peak trains terminate at Broadmeadows.

G for Upfield

Upfield

One day this line will be extended to Wallan if Labor let PTV do their job.

H for South Morang

South Morang

Soon to be H for Mernda.

I for Hurstbridge

Hurstbridge

The inspiration for this post.

J for Reserved

Doncaster

Doncaster.

K for Belgrave, Lilydale, Blackburn and Alamein

Ringwood

I included Blackburn due to the somewhat consistent stopping pattern during the week on the Ringwood corridor.

L for Glen Waverley

Glen Waverley

I actually forgot Glen Waverley. I had to re-letter the lines after it.

M for Reserved, Pakenham and Cranbourne

Dandenong

Rowville could happen now with high capacity signalling from the city to Caulfield and quadruplication from Caulfield to Huntingdale. You would have to remove Frankston from the City Loop, though.

N for Frankston

Frankston

Not all trains terminate at Frankston in peak.

O for Sandringham

Sandringham

Not much to say about this one. Brighton Beach is nice.

Displays and announcements

Imagine the letter as you see them above, always sitting to the left of the train’s destination on platform displays, train heads, signage and network maps.

For announcements the only change needed would be to include the letter with the train destination so instead of, “Your next service to depart from platform one will be. The five thirty four. Frankston,” you will hear, “Your next service to depart from platform one will be. The five thirty four. N service to. Frankston.”

And, if I understand the system correctly, the train knows where it is going and its stopping pattern by the driver entering a unique code in the driver’s cab. Theoretically this could also inform the passengers of the train’s destination after Flinders Street so when a train departs Richmond the train should announce, “The next station is Flinders Street. From Flinders Street this train will form an. A one service to. Williamstown.”

Congratulations on reading all this way. Your prize is the story of a UFO above Westall.

Melbourne’s Smart Bus operator Transdev (who once ran the trains under the name Connex) has proposed changes to Melbourne’s orbital bus routes. Most of the routes will be broken up and will run to a higher frequency in some sections and to a lower frequency in other sections.

Now, I am not opposed to lowing the frequency in some sections of the orbital routes, especially where they would theoretically connect with trains which run every 20 minutes. It does not work to run the bus every 15 minutes because for half the time an adequate train connection would be impossible.

But what did catch my attention was this line on the Transdev website and I will attempt to examine the truthfulness of the claim:

Better train connections with bus timetables adjusted to meet train timetable frequencies.”

Starting with route 901, proposed to run between Frankston Station and The Pines shopping centre along Stud Road.

Transdev say this route will have a peak frequency of every 10 minutes which is an adequate enough service level to connect with trains at Frankston, Dandenong and Ringwood, but out of peak the route would run every 15 minutes with trains currently running every 10 on the Dandeong and Frankston lines. This would not be an adequate train to bus connection.

Route 902 would run from Chelsea Station to Doncaster Shoppingtown along Springvale Road and would run to the same service level as the 901 and connect with the same lines with the addition of Glen Waverley. As above, it would connect adequately with trains in peak, but there would not be an adequate train to bus connection out of peak except at Glen Waverley.

Route 903, the most important route, from Mordialloc Station to Northland Shopping Centre along Warrigal Road would run every 7.5 minutes in peak (presumably without a public timetable). This route would connect adequately with trains on the Frankston, Dandenong, Glen Waverley, Ringwood and Hurstbridge lines in peak, but as with the others, its service level drops to every 15 minutes out of peak which prohibits adequate connections with trains except at Box Hill in the early afternoon and at Holmesglen.

Route 911 from Box Hill to Airport West Shopping Centre through South Morang (when the ferals have not caused a diversion) is the first of the lowered service level routes. This route would not run to a Smart Bus frequency with a service only every 20 minutes, however, this does allow an adequate connection with trains at Greensborough, South Morang, Epping, Roxburgh Park, Coolaroo and Broadmeadows, especially out of peak, as these lines only run every 20 minutes. But forget about using it on the weekend. It would run every 30 minutes on Saturday (no adequate train connection) and every 40 minutes on Sunday (connects with every second or fourth train theoretically).

Route 912 from “ Box Hill to Airport West Shopping Centre” will actually run from Doncaster Shoppingtown to Melbourne Airport (a mistake on Transdev’s part). This route will run to the same service level as the 911, theoretically providing an adequate train connection during the week at Greensborough, Keon Park and Broadmeadows stations, but not on the weekend.

Route 913 from Northland Shopping Centre to Essendon Station would run every 15 minutes during the week and every 30 minutes on the weekend prohibiting entirely an adequate train connection out of peak and on the weekends at Preston and Essendon and always at Coburg.

And finally, route 933 from Essendon Station to Altona Station through Sunshine, the western suburbs’ only Smart Bus. This route would run every 20 minutes in peak, adequate enough for those transferring from bus to train at Essendon and Sunshine and for those transferring from train to bus or bus to train at Altona, but out of peak the route would only run every 30 minutes, completely in contradiction of Transdev’s claim that the changes would see “better train connections with bus timetables adjusted to meet train timetable frequencies.”

I have provided two tables for your convenience.

Adequate bus to train connection?

Route

Peak

Out of peak

Saturday

Sunday

901

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

902

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

903

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

911

Yes

Yes

No

Yes*

912

Yes

Yes

No

Yes*

913

Yes

No

No

No

933

Yes

No

Yes*

Yes*

*40-minute service level

Adequate train to bus connection?

Route

Peak

Out of peak

Saturday

Sunday

901

Yes

No

Yes*

Yes*

902

Yes

No

Yes*

Yes*

903

Yes

No

Yes

Yes*

911

No

Yes*

No

No

912

No

Yes*

No

No

913

No

No

No

No

933

No**

No

No

No

*Every second train

**Connection possible at Altona