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CityPulse Melbourne

Sum of its parts

Why Melbourne must become a city of many cities.

Proudly, Melbourne has been one of the key growth centres for Australia over the past 27 years, as we weathered the storms of the global economy to boast the longest period of continuous growth recorded for any country in the world.

As we’ve grown, Melbourne has seen our economy transition from one heavily reliant on agribusiness and manufacturing to a much more diversified economy, with significant growth in health care, education, hospitality, construction, finance and professional services.

Melbourne’s inner city has rightly been at the centre of our growth. It made sense – our Hoddle grid system and hub and spoke public transport network made the centre easily accessible to all Melburnians.

With strong jobs growth, supported by focused efforts on creating an arts, culture and sports precinct in the inner city, our central city will continue to be a growth engine for Melbourne. The Victorian Government has confirmed its visions for the centre to become ‘Australia’s largest commercial and residential centre by 2050’ (Plan Melbourne, Outcome 1 – Direction 1).

But continued growth has seen the shape of Melbourne change. CityPulse Melbourne takes a look at how we respond to the population growth occurring beyond inner Melbourne by creating new hubs of opportunity to ensure the city remains efficient and liveable.


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Discover what Melbourne is like as a place to live, work and play

City Averages




Above average Close to average Below average Non-residential

PwC’s CityPulse assesses how each area performs against each of the three 'Live, Work, Play' metrics and is based on a range of data sources; examples under the category of Live include data relating to hospital accessibility, crime rates, and housing affordability. CityPulse focuses on general access and availability and does not currently take into account the demographics or preferences of local residents. Learn more about our approach.

Key findings on Live

  • Melbourne’s inner-east has the highest overall ‘live’ rating. However, substantial housing price growth is placing downward pressure on the live scores of our more expensive suburbs such as Toorak, Armadale and Malvern, despite their great access to services like hospitals and schools.
  • Growth areas in Melbourne’s north need more essential services and amenities to achieve higher ‘live’ scores.

Key findings on Work

  • Melbourne’s CBD – supported by a radial transport network – has been the core for jobs. That core has now spread into Docklands, Southbank, St Kilda Road and Parkville.
  • Significant precincts of jobs and growth have appeared outside of the CBD. These precincts include areas around Clayton and Dandenong to the south-east (including Monash University), towards Melbourne Airport and Essendon Airport in the north-west, and Laverton and Derrimut to the west. These areas are all supported by a strong road infrastructure and transport links.

Key findings on Play

  • Up until 30 years ago, Melbourne was an extremely CBD-centric city, however Melbourne now has a broad area of substantial ‘play’ activity spread well beyond the inner ring.
  • Improved and more considered land use planning, and a focus by developers on improving amenity (as a means of providing product differentiation), has enhanced ‘play’ accessibility for many Melburnians. New major government-funded social infrastructure, such as additional sports and aquatic centres in many areas of Melbourne, have made a material difference.
  • Gaps in ‘play’ accessibility are still prevalent in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, and out into new growth areas such as Beveridge and Donnybrook, and west beyond Sunshine. We will likely also see some improvements in the play index for these regions as community masterplans are implemented.

*Note the data considers access to the mentioned services only. Other factors, such as available capacity (e.g. empty hospital beds or school class spots), are not considered.

Key themes

Creating a Melbourne of many cities

The CBD and surrounds is Melbourne’s greatest asset. Melbourne has been blessed with some very good planning over its long development, starting with Robert Hoddle. In particular, the CBD is a huge asset to the city as growth in our service sectors and in knowledge-intensive industries has led to the favourable creation of clusters in places like the CBD and surrounds.  

While these areas are a fabulous success and we should continue to nurture and develop them, this approach will not be enough in the future. Now is the time to prioritise a small number of centres for accelerated development into employment-generating and lively mini-CBDs, and activate a polycentric city.

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Opportunities for the North

Melbourne’s north is a story of two halves – the inner north and the outer north – with relative rankings for Live, Work and Play generally all higher in the inner north. This division is a reflection, at least in part, of the higher than anticipated growth that has occurred in the outer north in particular as well as that, in general, amenity and infrastructure development in the outer north have simply not kept up with the rapid expansion.

CityPulse Melbourne has identified a number of opportunities to redress the inner/outer split in Melbourne’s north to provide better Live, Work and Play outcomes, particularly for residents in the outer north and disadvantaged middle suburbs.

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The Great Western Growth Race

The west of Melbourne has been the fastest growing region of an already fast-growing city, and this is likely to remain the case for some time to come. The proximity of affordable and developable land, combined with significant infrastructure investments such as the Western Ring Road and Regional Rail, have helped Melbourne’s west to boom.  

Such sustained, rapid growth is increasingly placing pressure on infrastructure, and affecting the accessibility and liveability of our suburbs in the west. The West Gate Tunnel will improve the access story for many areas in the west, but it is only part of the solution.

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Ideas to explore


Create new hubs of opportunity

Melbourne’s continuing population growth, urban sprawl, increasing congestion and subsequent loss of accessibility (in addition to its low density), means a transition to a polycentric city is critical to maintaining liveability and efficient growth. This requires identifying several areas with the right potential, then investing in better transport links, attracting business investment and employment, allowing higher density residential development, and building social infrastructure and programs.

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Create a corridor to connect our agricultural production areas

The creation of a corridor connecting the state’s agricultural production areas (in the north and east) would enable the north to take greater advantage of local food manufacturing, the fruit and vegetable wholesale market in Epping, and key transport hubs including Melbourne’s air and sea ports.


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Create iconic cultural institutions in the west

A stand-out opportunity is to draw on the west’s significant level of cultural diversity (56.9 per cent of Wyndham residents’ parents were born overseas compared to 38.5 per cent in Victoria – source 2016 census) to create iconic cultural institutions and experiences on the doorstep of the country’s fastest growing region.

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Contact us

Peter Konidaris

Managing Partner Melbourne, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 (3) 8603 1168

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