The proposed development of the Suburban Rail Loop (or rather horseshoe) promises to provide much-needed rail connections between Melbourne’s radial rail network. One of the proposed nodes Box Hill is already pointing the way with respect to major residential development as a leading metropolitan activity centre.

The City of Whitehorse promotes Box Hill as a ‘Future Ready City’[1] and the area around the Box Hill Railway station has been a major development hub since the early 2000s. While most residents and visitors to the area cannot but help notice that there is a construction boom, data from DELWP’s Housing Development Data project helps to put this in context.

Housing Development Data is an ongoing program which DELWP has maintained since 2004 which monitors the availability of all housing stock within 32 municipalities in the Melbourne metropolitan area.  The data provides a valuable picture of the development of housing in Melbourne and provides insights into the changing face of housing across the metropolitan area.

So what does this data tell us about what is happening in Box Hill?  One of the most interesting development aspects revealed by the Housing Development Data is that much of the high density development is happening on suburban blocks that previously held one or two family homes.

Prior to 2004, unit developments were modest with only 8 developments of 20 dwellings or more.  All of these were low rise, of no more than 3 storeys and the largest, ‘Gowanlea’ in Whitehorse Road, had only 38 units.

Figure 1: Map showing distribution of high density developments of 20+ dwellings in 2004. Source: DELWP Housing Development Data

Between 2005-16, thirty four (34) high density developments of 20 or more dwellings were completed in Box Hill

Figure 2: Map showing high-density housing developments of 20 units or more completed since 2004 around Box Hill Station Source: DELWP Housing Development Data

The first major high density housing development appears to have been the 68 unit Pacifica Apartments in Poplar Street, completed in 2007.  This development was over two standard suburban lots.

Figure 3: Pacifica Apartments (2007) Source DELWP Coordinated Imagery Program (CIP)

Between 2005 and 2015 there were twenty-five (25) 20+ unit development projects adding 1,148 dwellings (mean development size 47 dwellings).  Eleven of these projects occurred on a suburban lots of less than 1,000m2 which formerly supported single dwellings.  This meant that 11 lots that had formerly supported single dwellings now provided housing for 557 families.

This trend accelerated in 2016, the period for which the latest housing development data is available.  In 2016, there were nine developments of 20+ apartments with a total of 569 dwellings built (mean development size of 63 dwellings).  Eight of these developments occurred on suburban housing lots, although one of them in Harrow Street encompassed 3 lots.

Although large, these developments are dwarfed by some of the planned or under construction projects around the Box Hill activity centre.  Savills real estate estimates that there are 149 residential apartment projects in various stages of development which would provide 5,500 new apartments[2] including Sky One with 36 floors and over 400 dwellings and the Golden Age Group’s 18 storey redevelopment on the corner of Station and Cambridge Streets.

Sky One Box Hill ©

Whitehorse Council sees the development of Box Hill as a ‘Future Ready City’ with a variety of residential, commercial, retail and health and education facilities that will enable people to live where they work and study.  The population is planned to almost double in 20 years from the 12,000 people recorded in the 2016 census.  The council estimates that in 2013-14 there were 3.25 million passenger entries in Box Hill railway station.[3]  It looks like the Suburban Rail Loop can’t some soon enough.

Housing Development Data has been captured by Spatial Vision on behalf of the Victorian Department of Environment Land Water and Planning.  This data is available to everyone through Victoria’s Open Data portal


[1] City of Whitehorse Box Hill Future Ready City,

[2]  Battle for Box Hill: Residents warns of slums as high-rise surge in hot market Age 29/7/2017

[3]  City of Whitehorse Box Hill Future Ready City

For further information, please contact Spatial Vision at

Jeremy Alcorn