Property prices in Box Hill could rise sharply as hundreds of residents scramble to find new homes, potentially displaced by the Victorian government’s Suburban Rail Loop project.
The Andrews government has contacted about 300 households across Melbourne’s east, including residents of a recently built apartment block in Box Hill, informing them their properties will likely be required for stage one of the proposal.
“In terms of the acquisition there’s around 300 property owners that have been identified as potentially needing to be acquired for the project [sic] and we’re working really closely with those residents,” Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said.
The land acquisition would have a direct impact on property values in Box Hill, according to realestate.com.au economist, Anne Flaherty.
“You have a lot of people who call Box Hill home that are going to be forced to move into new dwellings and a lot of those people will want to continue living in Box Hill, so that’s going to push up demand for properties that aren’t being knocked down,” Ms Flaherty said.
She added the new transport infrastructure would also boost prices in the area.
“Generally, new infrastructure has a positive impact on house prices and liveability. Improving connectivity in a suburb improves the value of a suburb, and it makes people more likely to want to live there.”
“It will be a difficult situation for those in properties that are going to be knocked down but for those whose dwellings aren’t being impacted directly, it should lift their value so it should be good news for a lot of people in Box Hill.”
While it’s good news for some, not all residents are happy about the new train line, including Box Hill restaurant owner Zhen Qi.
Mr Qi’s business is located in the 2017-built 10-storey apartment block at 2-4 Elland Avenue, Box Hill, which is one of the properties that has been flagged by the government.
He said he never would have invested his time and money in setting up his business there if he had know it would be so short lived.
“It took me so long to get the business on track, and we survived COVID and now I have to move. I finally made my name in the area and now I have to move, it’s just a sad thing,” Mr Qi said.
“Nobody can guarantee that if we move the business it is going to stay the same. We’re going to leave the existing crowd and rebuild the existing customer base and from a business point of view it’s going to be a struggle for us.”
Mr Qi said the government has been in contact with him three times to warn him about the possible acquisition, but he is yet to see any plans.
“The latest letter told us about the potential acquisition, but they haven’t revealed any sort of plan.”
Shadow minister for transport and infrastructure, David Davis expressed concern over the lack of a business case and adequate funding at this stage of the proposal.
“It seems wasteful to tear down newly-created houses and apartments. These decisions, and if they start building this thing and it’s not properly scoped, will impact the city for decades to come,” Mr Davis said.
“The project is not actually funded yet. They’ve done early works in certain spots, but we haven’t seen the detailed plans. What we want is for [the government] to do a proper business case… so we can actually see what’s proposed.”
The government claim the housing acquisition is necessary to move forward.
“We’ve very deliberately chosen to do an underground tunnel to deliver the Suburban Rail Loop, because that does minimise above ground disruption during the construction phase,” Ms Allan said.
“The alternative would be to not deliver the Suburban Rail Loop. We need to have an improvement to our train network that helps people get to where they want to go.”
The 26-kilometre stage one of Suburban Rail Loop proposal will connect Melbourne’s south east between Cheltenham and Box Hill. The locations of six new underground stations have been identified at Cheltenham, Clayton, Monash, Glen Waverley, Burwood and Box Hill.
Ms Allan said the government is planning to release a business and investment case in the coming months.
“We’ll see early works start next year, we’ve got the tender process underway for the early works as well. We’re making great strides towards getting this project under construction by the end of 2022 and get on and deliver the Suburban Rail Loop.”
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