Development Victoria

Unlocking the western suburbs


Key facts

Project area: 460 hectares
Development timeframe: 20+ years
Estimated population: 10,000

Cairnlea is situated on the site of the former Albion Explosives Factory, a Commonwealth Department of Defence facility that operated from the early 1940s until the 1980s.

Development Victoria (then VicUrban) entered into an agreement with the Department of Defence to remediate the site and deliver housing and open space. 

The site has been remediated to a high standard since being vacated the Department of Defence and holds an EPA issued Statement of Environmental Audit permits the land for commercial uses.

Today Cairnlea has been successfully developed with 3100 residential lots with almost a third of the suburb devoted to public open space and grassland reserves. The community features:

  • A strong community base – the residents’ association successfully lobbied for Cairnlea to be recognised as a suburb in its own right
  • Boardwalks
  • Parklands
  • Picnic areas
  • Sports grounds
  • Cycling and walking tracks 

Future development

The Cairnlea Master Plan was developed in the late 1990s and the undeveloped land bordered by Cairnlea Drive and the Western Ring Road was shown as a Business Precinct for many years. This work was revisited in 2013-14 and, in response to community feedback, the plan was updated to provide more land for new homes.

In September 2016, the Minister for Planning approved Amendment C120 to the Brimbank Planning Scheme, rezoning the land for residential use, with a small commercial area on the corner of Ballarat Road and Cairnlea Drive, and some public open space. View the amendment here.

Cairnlea site - July 2018

Development Victoria will undertake soil testing of the site known as the Reid Street Landfill to further develop our understanding of the site and to determine the extent, if any, of any additional works required to ensure the site is suitable for residential use. Soil testing activities will be carried out between early August and September involving sinking bores into the site to remove samples.

An arborist report commissioned by Development Victoria found mature Sugar Gum trees on this site are a hazard. They are being monitored and will be progressively removed. Development Victoria intends to replace these trees with more appropriate tree species set within improved landscape reserves and green corridors. View the arborist's report here.


Innovation and awards

Cairnlea received the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects Land Management in Landscape Architecture award in 2008. Cairnlea demonstrates how an environmentally degraded site can be transformed through the successful integration of land management techniques within a new residential development. The estate features:

  • An extensive storm water harvesting and recycling scheme which was designed with the potential to save up to 160,000 kilolitres of potable water a year;
  • Regenerated streams and creek systems which have encouraged increased bird and aquatic life;
  • Remnant grasslands integrated into the design of the estate.

Cairnlea was also the site of the Ecohome project, a collaboration between VicUrban, RMIT and Metricon Homes, which aimed to demonstrate the application of environmental principles for individual home owners.