La Trobe National Employment and Innovation Cluster

La Trobe National Employment and Innovation Cluster

The La Trobe National Employment and Innovation Cluster (La Trobe Cluster) sits within the northern sub-region of Melbourne and is located north-east of Melbourne’s Central Business District.

With the highest concentration of jobs in Melbourne’s north-east, the La Trobe NEIC has great potential for attracting and creating new jobs which will enhance the area’s overall liveability and improve residents’ wellbeing.

The Victorian Government, together with Banyule and Darebin City Councils have developed a Draft Framework Plan for investment and jobs growth in the La Trobe Cluster.

The La Trobe National Employment and Innovation Cluster Draft Framework Plan an important step forward in the implementation of Plan Melbourne 2017-2050. It is a strategic action plan aimed at increasing employment by driving economic growth in the suburbs through coordinated public and private investment. The plan incorporates a shared vision and actions for developing the four key precincts of La Trobe University, Heidelberg Major Activity Centre and Medical Precinct, Northland and Heidelberg West employment areas.

Previous Consultation

The VPA conducted a series of consultation events in June 2016 on the key ideas and vision for the cluster. The results of the engagement process can be found here.

A second round of community consultation followed, which you can read about here.

The engagement feedback is briefly summarised below:

  • Connect destinations in the cluster, including activity centres, institutions, and employment areas
  • Improve cycling and pedestrian connections linking both sides of Darebin Creek
  • Provide streetscape works and greening throughout major pedestrian and cycling areas
  • Improve signage to make getting around the cluster easier
  • Provide new and improved open space and new public spaces
  • Develop a business investment and attraction strategy to attract new business

Background Information

A Framework Plan is a high-level and broad strategy that will:

  • Set out the future vision for the Cluster
  • Guide sustainable future growth and development over the next 30 years
  • Identify the steps needed to manage growth
  • Define key projects and infrastructure required to support growth
  • Provide an improved and more certain environment for making both public and private investment decisions.

The Framework Plan will be a high-level planning tool to coordinate, guide and inform the preparation and consideration of future, more detailed local plans and planning permit applications.

A key aim of this planning is to create diverse, compact and well-connected communities that are affordable and rich in local jobs, transport access, services and culture.

National Employment and Innovation Clusters (the clusters) are areas with concentrations of businesses and institutions that provide a diversity of employment opportunities, including knowledge-based jobs.

The Victorian Government’s strategic planning document, Plan Melbourne 2017-2050, has identified seven National Employment and Innovation Clusters. The clusters are located in areas that have specialised activities, typically centred around major universities and teaching hospitals. They make a significant contribution to innovation and the national economy and have the capacity to further enhance Melbourne’s competitive position within the global economy.

The VPA is a statutory planning authority that reports to the Minister for Planning. The VPA plans for growth in new suburbs and retrofitting established parts of metropolitan Melbourne (in particular the clusters and strategic urban renewal sites) and regional Victoria.

The VPA works closely with councils, government agencies and the planning and development community on integrated land use and infrastructure coordination for strategically important development sites and precincts.

Our major tasks include unlocking the supply of land and facilitating housing diversity and affordability, job creation and better development of new communities in new and established areas.

The VPA coordinates state agencies and has been working closely with Banyule and Darebin councils to consider infrastructure and service needs in areas where change is needed to address future challenges such as the need to increase local jobs and greater diversity of homes.

The seven clusters are geographically dispersed across Melbourne at Werribee, Sunshine, La Trobe (Bundoora/Heidelberg), Fishermans Bend, Monash, Parkville and Dandenong.

The La Trobe Cluster covers parts of the Banyule and Darebin local government areas (Bundoora, Preston, Heidelberg and Heidelberg West) and is Located between 7km and 14km from the centre of Melbourne at the meeting point of several key transport routes in Melbourne’s north-east, the La Trobe Cluster has strong connections to the CBD, Melbourne Airport and Melbourne’s booming northern suburbs.

The proposals that lead to potential changes in land use will be implemented through an amendment to the planning scheme of the relevant council. This may follow directly off the back of the Framework Plan, or as part of a later Structure Plan.

Works that need funding, such as streetscape improvements, open space, community facilities and transport projects, will likely be funded via a range of mechanisms, including the relevant council’s budget, development contributions and / or state government.

Melbourne’s population is booming, and it is important there are a wealth of employment opportunities in the city’s suburbs, close to where people live. La Trobe has the highest concentration of jobs in the north-eastern part of Melbourne, supporting 28,700 jobs. Job numbers have the potential to increase significantly between now and 2050.

It is home to internationally renowned institutions and organisations including the Austin Hospital, Mercy Hospital, Warringal Hospital, Olivia Newton John Wellness Centre, La Trobe University, and the La Trobe University Research and Development Park that includes Rio Tinto, as well as advanced manufacturing enterprises. It has high potential for future growth.

A Precinct Structure Plan (PSP) differs from a Framework Plan as it contains more detail guiding decision making at a localised level. It covers a smaller geographic area such as an activity centre.

The purpose of preparing a PSP for urban renewal areas is to manage growth and facilitate change in an established area to leverage existing infrastructure and accommodate increasing housing demands and employment growth.

Planning for urban renewal areas is linked to intensification and planned upgrades in infrastructure (such as transport, community infrastructure and public realm) that deliver community benefits. The precinct structure plan should provide:

  • Greater certainty for all stakeholders
  • A framework for transition of the precinct to higher intensity of activity
  • A coordinated approach to delivery of infrastructure
  • Clear guidance for future land use and built form to support streamlined and timely decision making

Together with the framework planning, precinct structure planning is an important part of the State Government’s strategy to ensure proper and orderly planning of established areas.

Future Changes

The preparation of a strategic Framework Plan for La Trobe National Employment and Innovation Cluster is being led by the VPA. This is being undertaken in partnership with the Cities of Banyule and Darebin as well as La Trobe University, Austin Health and other key organisations and stakeholders that will influence the future employment and innovation ventures within the area.

The cluster is recognised for its specialised activities and leading education, health and research facilities and the proximity of major transport infrastructure (Hurstrbridge rail line, Tram Route 86 and major arterial roads).

While these existing strengths have helped establish the area as a cluster, they will also act as a catalyst for the still significant untapped potential of the area, while providing for future business, institutional and residential growth.

The following principles that are designed to guide planning for the cluster include:

  • A highly productive business, learning and research hub with increased attractiveness as a place to work, live and visit.
  • Intensified and rejuvenated employment precincts that increase and diversify employment opportunities
  • A high profile cluster that flourishes and grows in its importance to the local, state and national economy
  • Integrated transport networks that support economic growth with a hierarchy of road users supporting sustainable and active modes of movement
  • A mixed use cluster with better services and facilities and affordable, accessible and diverse housing close to jobs
  • Maximising the use of existing community infrastructure, and when needed, providing for new infrastructure including public and private schools, community centres and sporting facilities
  • Sustainable precincts with integrated water cycle management, increased liveability, enhanced environmental benefits through environmentally sustainable development and climate change resilience
  • Enhanced identity and connectivity of the Darebin Creek corridor embracing the aboriginal cultural heritage and promoting cohesion between the Cities of Darebin and Banyule.

Potential opportunities are being explored within the cluster to support the transition from traditional manufacturing to new and emerging industries, as well as those where there is a local competitive advantage.

Future jobs will be created in key areas that are, and will continue to perform, successfully. Locations for these new jobs are likely to be at La Trobe University, the Austin Medical Precinct and around Heidelberg West and Northland industrial areas.

The focus of jobs in these areas include professional services, research, education and health.  Around transport hubs and town centres, more retail, commercial and office-based jobs will also add to the cluster’s vibrancy.

Rapidly evolving technology and markets also means that many jobs that may exist in the next 20 years have not even been thought of yet. Given this, planning for employment in the cluster will also need to incorporate flexibility for adaptation over time.

The employment areas are likely to transform to accommodate significant growth in the number of businesses and jobs, better transport (more bus services, duplication of the Hurstbridge rail line and a level crossing removal at Rosanna Train Station), improved open spaces, services and facilities, to reflect a modern business destination.

The plan will complement the work council is currently undertaking, to ensure there is a good supply of housing close to jobs. These changes will also be supported by improved transport infrastructure and public realm, as well as connectivity within and outside the Cluster.

No, existing businesses will be able to remain and operate as they are currently. The Framework Plan (and any future Precinct Structure Plans) will however, provide business with improved certainty and guidance should they choose to move and / or expand their operations within the cluster.

La Trobe University has a master plan to expand the university and create a university town and a sports precinct and new allied health businesses are already establishing in the Austin Medical Precinct.

Darebin Council has commenced a structure planning process for the Northland area and there has already been interest expressed in redevelopment from the private sector.

Bike paths have been proposed in the Framework Plan together with improved connections across the Darebin Creek.


Banyule Council has a structure plan in place for the precinct that outlines some public realm improvements, as well as setting direction for redevelopment of key strategic sites. The VPA will review this plan in conjunction with council. More information can be found on council’s website can be found at

La Trobe University has a Masterplan in place that outlines significant redevelopment areas on the university grounds. More information can be found on the university’s website:

Darebin City Council is undertaking a structure plan for the precinct (Northland Urban Renewal Precinct). For details on the proposed changes, please contact the strategic planning department at Darebin City Council.

A Precinct Structure Plan is earmarked to begin preparation later in 2017 and will be a joint project between Banyule City Council and the VPA. Please keep an eye on the VPA’s website for information on this project as it is developed.


Following the previous consultation phase, this is an opportunity to view the final draft Framework.

Come along to the La Trobe National Employment and Innovation Cluster Drop in Information Session on March 28 2017, 5:30pm-7:30pm at Preston Town Hall, 284 Gower Street, Preston

Visit to download a copy of the final draft framework plan for the La Trobe National Employment and Innovation Cluster.

Make a written submission and send it to us by email or post by no later than 18 April 2017

Phone:                 9651 9600
Post:                      Victorian Planning Authority, Level 25, 35 Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC, 3000

Supporting Documentation

State Significant Employment Precincts -Business Intentions Survey (Essential Economics)
PDF  Version
Heidelberg West Industrial Estate - Business Monitor Results (Banyule Business)
PDF  Version
La Trobe National Employment and Innovation Cluster - Draft Framework Plan (VPA)
DOCX  Version PDF  Version
La Trobe Employment Cluster Brochure
PDF  Version DOCX  Version
La Trobe Employment Cluster Presentation
PDF  Version
La Trobe Public Engagement Report
PDF  Version DOCX  Version
La Trobe Public Engagement Report Summary
PDF  Version DOCX  Version
La Trobe Public Engagement Outcomes Report (Phase 2) - November 2017 Copy
PDF  Version DOCX  Version