What was once an old quarry is on track to become a massive $1.2 billion master-planned mixed-use community.
The City of Whittlesea this week resolved to commence a formal planning scheme amendment on the site at 215 Cooper Street Epping, which has the makings to become one of Melbourne's more significant in-fill projects.
Developer Riverlee acquired the 51 hectare site in 2015 and has been determined to create 'New Epping', a master-planned mixed-use precinct that will combine with the nearby existing Northern Hospital, Epping Plaza Shopping Centre, North Point Business Park, Epping Medical Centre and other key local services as a part of the Epping Activity Centre.
This site was purchased in partnership with Malaysian publicly listed company Batu Kawan Berhad (BKB), and has remained vacant for the past 17 years as one of the last remaining links in the Epping Central Activity Centre.
Since then, Riverlee has worked closely with the City of Whittlesea, state and federal government agencies, and public and private healthcare providers, to create a blueprint for their project, which includes a 300 bed private hospital, a 200 place childcare centre, 200 aged care beds, 2,000 new homes, 80,000 square metres of commercial space and over 11 hectares of green space and recreational zones, bike and pedestrian paths throughout, including rehabilitated wetlands and native vegetation.
The site is located 18 kilometres north of the CBD and just 18 minutes away from Tullamarine Airport by car.
New Epping (as outlined in red) and its surrounds.
In addition, the New Epping project would create Australia’s largest privately-funded health precinct with over 7 hectares of land devoted to a private hospital and various healthcare, aged health and health research facilities.
Riverlee Development Director David Lee said the New Epping site represented one of the most strategically sound locations to deliver a natural extension of the surrounding mixed-use environments while delivering a host of new and vital infrastructure to support the rapidly growing needs of the booming northern corridor.
“The population of Melbourne’s northern growth corridor is expected to almost double in the next 15 years to accommodate over 1.1 million people," Mr Lee said.
"With this growth comes the critical need for a host of new services and infrastructure.
“Our vision for New Epping will seek to fill this need by creating an integrated mixed-use precinct encompassing a world-class health and aged care precinct, a new employment cluster, new retail and commercial services and a mix of affordable and upscale residential housing. Our aim will be to create more opportunities for the residents of Epping and the northern corridor to be able to live, work and access vital health and other services from within their own local surrounds.
Aerial of New Epping site.
“We are committed to working closely with all stakeholders and the community to ensure the appropriate regeneration of the Edgars Creek Corridor as a new public amenity and protect the naturally-occurring environments throughout. As part of this vision we are proposing to retain and transform part of the historic quarry into a tranquil lake integrated by what will become the region’s largest linear public realm corridor.
“A site such as this one is not without its challenges so we will be undertaking a rigorous investigation process to effectively evaluate and manage the site’s unique requirements, working closely with the Council every step of the way."While the project guarantees a giant undertaking, Riverlee is not phased.
“As a developer we have had extensive experience in transforming challenging sites, ‘Jaques’ in Richmond was a former rock-crushing foundry which presented a set of unique site circumstances, while we also worked in collaboration with the City of Port Phillip to redevelop the old St Kilda Municipal Depot," Mr Lee said.
‘Jaques’ in Richmond.
“Given our experience in these complex projects and our passion for urban renewal, the Epping site complexities and challenges are what initially appealed to us. We immediately saw its immense potential and we have been working closely with council and other stakeholders to create a blueprint that will meet the current and future needs of the growing community.
What's next for New Epping?
In conjunction with the PSA process, Riverlee announced the appointment of Ernst & Young as the lead advisor to run a partner selection process for the New Epping Health Precinct. The expression of interest process recently closed with the shortlisting process to commence shortly.
The City of Whittlesea will now commence an initial Planning Scheme Amendment exhibition and community consultation process, after which the preparation of a Development Plan can commence.
In the meantime, Riverlee will go on with their process of putting together an extensive community consultation and detailed site investigations in order to create a development plan that mitigates responds to site conditions associated with the site’s former industrial use.