Residents fume over having to take 30-minute U-turn out of new suburb

·News Reporter
·4-min read

It’s been slammed by locals as the ‘forgotten west’ of Melbourne.

A new suburb dubbed ‘the island’ with a half hour drive in the wrong direction just to leave it.

“I worked in the city and travelling to go anywhere became ridiculous,” homebuyer Nicole Pilbeam told Yahoo News Australia.

“You had to go down to go up, and up to come back down."

Thornhill Park may be only 40 kilometres northwest from Melbourne, but the drive is a lot longer than you'd think.

Despite nearly decade-old promises, an overpass onto the Western Freeway is yet to be built.

It means residents need to do a giant U-turn in order to reach the city-bound lanes.

That journey involves entering the freeway at Mount Cottrell Road and heading west, before taking the next exit at Ferris Road.

Drivers then need to make a sharp right to re-enter the Western Freeway to go east, passing by the Thornhill Park estate on their way into the city.

Map of the U-turn required (left) and the planning document (right)
Thornhill Park residents face a 30 minute U-turn to get into Melbourne despite 2015 plans for an overpass onto the Western Freeway. Source: Google Maps/Growth Areas Authority

After buying their property off the plan in November 2015, Nicole and her partner finally moved into their new home in July, 2018 with hopes of raising a family in Thornhill Park.

“The estate had everything going for it which made it perfect to get into the market as a new homebuyer, and a good spot to bring kids up.”

A year after moving in the couple welcomed a baby girl, but by August 2021 the lack of promised infrastructure – including a local train station and amenities – pushed the young family out.

Nicole said it was like “being closed off from everything”.

“The daycare hadn’t started, there were no shopping centres, no doctors, and nothing close by. It was a joke. And the extra added trip time was annoying.

“It wasn’t feasible for us being a new family. We had had enough so we moved out and relocated to Tasmania.”

Nicole Pilbeam and her family (left) and Nicole's daughter outside their Thornhill Park house (right)
Nicole Pilbeam and her partner moved to Thornhill Park hoping to raise their family but after three years they moved out due to a lack of infrastructure and amenities. Source: Nicole Pilbeam

Developer echoes residents' frustrations

The developer behind Thornhill Park, Wel.Co, says it absolutely agrees with residents and their frustrations about the lack of government-led infrastructure.

“As a developer, we continue to pay $10s of millions of dollars in contributions to government infrastructure items that are not delivered in the timeframe the community needs them,” Wel.Co Founder and AFL footballer Andrew Welsh told Yahoo News Australia.

In a statement he says the Victorian Government had previously stated its intention to deliver the railway station and interchange at Mount Cottrell Road leading onto the Western Freeway, but that timeframes were indicative only and subject to change.

"We welcome the communities' voice in support and frustrations that these external government led items are not being delivered in the time needed for these growth areas.

“No resident has been or could be misled as the position has been properly explained,” Mr Welsh added.

Thornhill Park was marketed as a homebuyer's dream with local amenities and a future train station. Source: Thornhill Park
Thornhill Park was marketed as a homebuyer's dream with local amenities and a future train station. Source: Thornhill Park

In a Precinct Structure Plan from July, 2015, the Victorian government's Growth Areas Authority says the precinct will connect directly to the Western Freeway via a new half-diamond interchange at Mount Cottrell Road, while a potential new railway station may provide direct access to the Melbourne-Ballarat rail corridor.

The Victorian government on Thursday declined to answer Yahoo News Australia’s questions about whether it will build the much-needed interchange or the train station at Thornhill Park.

In a statement it explained the Department of Transport is conducting a Western Freeway Corridor Study between the M80 Ring Road and Ferris Road in Melton to assess emergency transport needs.

“As more and more people make Melbourne’s west home, we’re investing in major projects to keep locals moving while also planning for the future.”

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