01.11.2023Submission to Suburban Rail Loop precinct development discussion paper

The Suburban Rail Loop (SRL) is the largest infrastructure project in Victoria’s history that will transform the way Melbourne functions. As it begins to take shape over the next decade, it could help deliver various benefits for Melburnians, including enhanced connectivity, more housing choice and economic growth.

In August 2023, the Suburban Rail Loop Authority (SRLA) released a discussion paper that aims to help develop a shared vision for precinct development between Cheltenham and Box Hill. The paper includes community feedback already received, as well as draft ambition statements and proposed priority outcomes for each precinct. As part of its submission to the SRLA in response to the discussion paper, the Committee emphasised two crucial issues:

1/ The need for the SRL, including the SRL East precincts, to form part of an integrated transport plan for Greater Melbourne and Victoria, incorporating land use and economic development planning.

The absence of a comprehensive, integrated transport plan for Melbourne has created significant challenges, particularly for outer suburban residents who face higher private transport costs, as well as unequal access to amenities, education and health services, job opportunities, and social experiences. Ensuring that the investment in SRL benefits all Melburnians is important and could be achieved by fusing these precincts with various transport modes that service areas well beyond the immediate boundaries of each precinct.

The submission asks the SRLA to consider, as part of its advice for ‘Plan Victoria’, calling for a comprehensive, integrated transport plan for Melbourne and Victoria, which includes timelines and accountabilities, and demonstrates how it envisions the SRL would form part of this plan to support connectivity, sustainability, social inclusion, affordable housing and productivity.

2/ The need for a sustainable funding model to ensure that the SRL East precincts and broader project are delivered successfully.

While the Victorian Government has indicated that funding for SRL will involve a mix of sources, including public financing, potential private sector involvement through public-private partnerships, value capture mechanisms and federal government support, funding details are needed.

The submission stresses the importance of a sustainable funding model and suggests some strategies to ensure optimal funding outcomes. They include providing a precise cost estimation, developing a clear funding plan, securing Commonwealth funding commitments, promoting private sector involvement and establishing robust financial monitoring and risk management practices. Moreover, it recommends that authorities gain a thorough understanding of the value capture options available and ensure that the most appropriate ones are applied to the SRL.

Read our submission here.

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