200,000 new residents: Melbourne’s northern suburbs need huge infrastructure injection

Melbourne’s northern suburbs badly need major transport and infrastructure projects as the region braces to accommodate hundreds of thousands of extra residents in the next 15 years, new research has found.

The council areas of Hume and Whittlesea will see more than 200,000 new residents by 2031 on current growth rates of almost 3 per cent a year, the report by engineers Arup finds.

Their report was commissioned by lobby group North Link to assess what investment the northern suburbs need over the next decade, in order to keep up with the rest of the city.

North Link executive director Chris James said the Arup report proved the city’s north had “historically underinvested in public and private infrastructure compared to the rest of Melbourne”.

“Faster-than-expected population and industry growth requires infrastructure planning and build[ing] to be brought forward,” he said.

The Arup report recommends state and federal governments fund major projects such as the $15.8 billion North East Link toll road and freeway widening, the Outer Metropolitan Ring Road and intermodal freight hubs in Somerton and Beveridge to improve how freight gets to and from the Port of Melbourne.

The report also calls for the immediate construction of a rail link to Melbourne Airport, and for 51 hectares of vacant land next to the Melbourne Market in Epping to be turned into a food manufacturing and research hub.

Mr James said the city’s north had a bright future, but to make sure it didn’t fall far behind the rest of Melbourne there needed to be a “co-ordinated focus” on infrastructure, investment and industry.

One of the report’s authors was former Victorian planning minister Justin Madden, who now works for Arup. He said the report set a clear path “for Melbourne’s north to realise its economic potential”.

North Link campaigns on behalf of businesses and residents in the city’s north and is funded by a range of local councils and companies.

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/victoria/200-000-new-residents-melbourne-s-northern-suburbs-need-huge-infrastructure-injection-20181026-p50c85.html

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