The growing appeal of Melbourne's leafy east

by Joanne Brookfield

burwood brickworks melbourne

The suburbs where we spend our childhood often hold special memories.

“I grew up with a brother and three step-sisters so we would spend our weekends and school holidays playing at the park – coming home only for lunch, heading out again and then back home when the street lights would go on,” recalls Katie Cage of growing up in the east Melbourne suburb of Burwood.

“As we got a little older, we were able to walk up to the shops on Toorak Road and spend our pocket money.”

Burwood, Burwood East, Box Hill and Glen Waverley are those tightly-held, leafy eastern suburbs that have always held great appeal for families.

“One of the interesting things is 44 per cent of the properties are actually owned outright,” Dr Nicola Powell, Domain’s senior research analyst, says of Burwood East.

“So, it’s an area where people move to and they stay for a long time because you’ve got a high proportion of people who own their home outright without a mortgage.”

In comparison, the state average of properties that are owned outright is 32 per cent; nationally, it’s 31 per cent.

“Forty-four per cent really speaks volumes,” Dr Powell says. It also translates to an above-average median house price.

“When you look at the median price for a house in Burwood East, it’s over a million dollars so that’s higher than the median price in Melbourne,” she explains. “Burwood East houses have made, over the last five years, a phenomenal rate of growth at 75 per cent.”

In Box Hill, the median price is $1.6 million and five-year growth is almost at 130 per cent – “and that’s still growing year on year,” Dr Powell adds. Meanwhile, Glen Waverley has a $1.3 median house price and five-year growth of 76 per cent.

The appeal of the area has brought Cage back as an adult and a parent herself.

“As my son got a little older, I wanted to move back and be around great schools and a strong community,” says Cage, who works as the marketing manager for BIG4 Holiday Parks of Australia and runs her side business, Mindful Marketing.

“Burwood is convenient for my work and has everything we need within arm’s reach.”

She’s pleased to see Burwood has retained a demographic of both families and couples, great access to facilities and plenty of parks, while also having had “a little bit of a facelift” in the form of new specialty shops, increased food options, and an abundance of cafes along Toorak Road.

One suburb over, Burwood East will soon benefit from Burwood Brickworks, a major new mixed-use project, bringing restaurants, cafes and entertainment, as well as an array of housing options.

The suburb has traditionally featured mainly detached homes, and data from the 2016 census, says Dr Powell, shows that apartments account for just 2.4 per cent of Burwood East’s property landscape. However, this is set to change.

“There will be a diverse mix of approximately 450 apartments, 250 terraces, detached and semi-detached homes and a select number of land lots,” says Sarah Bloom, Frasers Property general manager of residential Victoria at Frasers Property Australia.

Located on the former brickworks site on Middleborough Road, the development will be a master-planned community with a brand-new retail centre, 2.5 hectares of open space and parklands, and an emphasis on sustainability.

“With the entire precinct designed to achieve a six-star Green Star Communities rating from the Green Building Council of Australia, we wanted to take the retail centre to the next level by targeting full accreditation under the Living Building Challenge,” Bloom says.

This retail centre will include a Woolworths and Dan Murphy’s, plus a six-screen cinema.

An urban rooftop farm will live here, too, featuring a glasshouse, external planters and landscaped growing areas that will supply organic produce for a rooftop restaurant.

“Our vision is for Burwood Brickworks to integrate seamlessly into the existing community, ensuring it is one cohesive community experience for Burwood,” Bloom adds.

This article originally appeared on on 11 October 2018.