“It’s a really lost opportunity,” he said. “If we wanted to create a decentralised city at higher density – not simply a city of the same density we have now, with high-rise towers sticking out of it at Clayton and Monash Uni – we need to invest in improving transport all the way along [the tunnel],” he said.
The growing research cluster around Monash University is already the biggest employment centre outside central Melbourne and has been considered prime for further development as a high-skilled jobs hub.
The SRL business case says the line will help grow the number of jobs at Monash from 36,500 in 2018 to 162,000 in 2056, and more than double employment at nearby Clayton from 21,000 jobs to 57,500.
City of Monash mayor Nicky Luo said there was significant investment driving the Monash research and technology cluster, which now includes the CSIRO, the new Victorian Heart Hospital, Monash Health, biotech company Moderna, Telstra and the Australian Synchrotron.
“The Suburban Rail Loop will better connect this exciting area with the rest of Melbourne,” she said.
However, Luo said the council has reservations about the planning process and that it was vital plans for the precinct focus development and density in appropriate areas.
The SRL Authority has taken planning controls over large areas around each new station at Cheltenham, Clayton, Monash University, Glen Waverley, Burwood and Box Hill, and flagged high-rise development close to each station.