Although it won’t reopen until the end of August, Ormond station has been coming along… here’s how it looked on Saturday:
Under the station building facing North Road is the deck for the concourse, as can be seen in the plans:
But further north from that, a second deck is taking shape.
It’s actually easiest to see in this still from a Level Crossing Removal Authority video posted at the weekend.
In their 2014 election manifesto, the State ALP noted:
Victorian Labor will also pursue all appropriate “value capture” opportunities to best use the space around level crossings.
— Project 10,000 http://www.lilydambrosio.com.au/Victorian-Labors-Project-10000.pdf
It hasn’t been obvious until now, but at Ormond, where the level crossing is being removed and the rail line and station being put below ground level, they’ve built the extra deck for precisely that type of value capture. It’s planned for residential and retail development.
Nothing’s been officially announced, but The Age got confirmation of this today: High-rises to soar over suburban stations to help fund level crossing removals
In theory, this is a great idea.
If there’s one place you want urban renewal, and higher densities, it’s around public transport, especially around railway stations.
And this particular railway station is served by frequent trains every day of the week — every 10 minutes during most daylight hours.
This means that apart from good access on foot to around 200 local shops, as well as train to the CBD, in the next year or two Southland station will open, meaning also good access to a major suburban centre about ten minutes down the line.
But… the devil is in the detail.
The Age reports the development may be up to 13 storeys. This will make it by far the tallest building for miles around. Will it be beautiful, or an eyesore? Is 13 storeys too much for the area?
As respected Danish urban planner Jan Gehl notes in this great podcast from 2014, “You can normally achieve a fantastic density with buildings that are 5, 6, 7 stories… The tower is the lazy architect’s answer to density.”
There are precedents in suburban areas around Melbourne. Camberwell has towers of around 12 storeys. Ringwood seems to have developments of about ten storeys. Mind you both of those centres are larger than Ormond, with more public transport services and a lot more shops.
And in Melbourne it’s very rare to see development above railway lines.
It’s immediately adjacent low-rise residential properties. The southern end of the deck is next to the station and busy North Road, but it extends up well into the nearby residential area. All the areas surrounding it are residential “GRZ1”, with a height limit of 10.5 metres, or 3 storeys.
The north-south public transport is good, but east-west isn’t. Bus route 630 along North Road to Monash Uni Clayton (a significant education and employment destination) are okayish on weekdays (every 12 minutes peak, 20 off-peak, but not frequent in the evening or on weekends), but the local 626 route to Elsternwick and Chadstone is pretty hopeless (every 30 minutes weekdays, hourly on weekends and evenings).
It’s a similar story with local bike paths; north-south are there (or will be once the level crossing project is complete), but east-west means mixing it with heavy traffic.
Peak PT can be very crowded. If several hundred new residents move in, and the bulk of them want to head into the city in peak, what will it do to train crowding? Perhaps it’s not a huge increase in the grand scheme of things, but continuous capacity increases are needed to stay ahead.
How much car parking will be provided? The less the better I think. The last thing you want is lots of people moving in and adding to traffic congestion in an already busy area. Providing viable PT, cycling and walking options is important.
Speaking of parks, there’s not much green space in the area either. The closest park would be Gunn Reserve, a good 10-15 minute walk away.
This development could be great. But it’s too early to tell.
And why the big secret?
- See also: Marcus Wong: Apartments and secrecy at Ormond station
- Alan Davies makes some good points here: Is “the suburbs” a useful idea anymore?
- Urban Melbourne: Context matters: Glen Eira’s level crossing removals & ‘value capture’ redevelopment
- This Leader story mentions in passing: Mr Donnellan said an independent planning panel would take public submissions before a recommendation on the project was made to the planning minister. It is believed smaller scale developments could also be built next to Bentleigh and McKinnon stations.
- Update 26/7/2016: I’m told that the 13 storeys will face onto North Road, but staggered down as it gets closer to the residential areas. Makes sense; similar designs have been seen elsewhere.
- Also, already there are rumours flying around about huge developments in Mckinnon and Bentleigh; I’m told any development there will be of a smaller scale. As noted in The Age’s article: The government said developments at those two stations would be smaller in scale, in keeping with the village atmosphere.