Box Hill needs a far-reaching new master plan – urgently

Central Box Hill has become unattractive and uninviting for many local residents, and the current surge of high rise proposals risks making it little more than a mess of towers and wind tunnels.

There’s a need and an opportunity for Whitehorse Council to look big picture at how to make central Box Hill more welcoming and attractive for everyone.

We urgently need a new “master plan” for central Box Hill, because every new tower that’s approved reduces our options for the future. However, if we can get it right, we can have a people-friendly and attractive layout for central Box Hill that will last for generations.

A few thought starters as examples of the questions we need to ask… Could the car park at the corner of Whitehorse and Nelson Roads become a new city square, and the current mall be extended and link to the square and across to Carrington Road via walkways or decking above the railway line? Could the bus terminus be relocated, and Carrington Road become a pedestrian mall between Thurston Street and Station Street? Can accessible car parking be built so people can park and shop at Box Hill as easily as at Forest Hill Chase or Westfield Doncaster?

With the shopping centre owner, Vicinity, now looking to upgrade their centre, a lot more options become viable.

The State government needs to support the Whitehorse Council to create a plan like this for a people-friendly future Box Hill, and be willing to make the planning scheme and other changes to implement it. It also needs release the report it commissioned on options for the Box Hill transport interchange, which it’s currently keeping secret.

As well, the State government needs to stop forcing excessive development into residential streets in Box Hill and nearby suburbs, and it needs to provide the schools, aged care, allied health, public transport and other infrastructure to keep up with the growing population.

And, of course, Victoria needs a proper statewide population policy to take pressure off Box Hill and other suburbs and support greater growth in regional Victoria where it’s needed and welcome – see vicpopulation.com.au.

There’s a lot that needs to be done, but there’s also a window of opportunity to do it.

If you live in Box Hill or surrounding suburbs, I’d greatly welcome your views.

See also today’s The Age article Battle for Box Hill.