Fact-checking figures in Flemington


Moonee Valley Council has published various population projections for Flemington to justify its funding pitch for a $40m community hub at Debney’s Park.

Not all of the figures appear to be reasonable projections or statements based on the evidence available.

How many people will be living in Flemington in 20 years, and what does Arden-Macaulay mean to Moonee Valley?

Earlier this week, the Moonee Valley Leader published an article about the $40m community hub proposed for Debney’s Park in Flemington.

The article included statements about population growth in Flemington that didn’t quite sound right.

Flemington’s population is forecast to double in the next 20 years, with the Arden-Macaulay development in Parkville to add 20,000 new residents who are likely to use the park and community hub given its proximity.” Moonee Valley Leader

I made some inquires and found references to Flemington’s population in a number of MVCC statements:

Screen Shot 2019-04-05 at 10.39.44 am

Screenshot from here

Screen Shot 2019-04-05 at 10.42.02 am

Screenshot from here

Screen Shot 2019-04-05 at 10.46.55 am

Screenshot from Appendix B Advocacy Strategy, Ordinary Council Meeting, 26 March, 

MV2040 says the following about Flemington’s population:

Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 9.57.17 am

These statements claim:

  • Flemington’s population will almost double to 15,600 by 2036, or will double to 15,500 by 2039, or will grow 1.8% pa to 20,950 by 2040.
  • The housing estate population will double in the renewal process to 3,800
  • The population of Travancore has tripled since 2009
  • 15,000, or 20,000, people will move into Arden-Macaulay

So what’s correct? Let’s do some fact-checking.

For those who want a quick summary, here’s what I found. Read on further for detailed explanations:

Flemington’s population depends on how you define Flemington.

In the next 20 years, the 8000 existing Flemington residents may welcome 1500 new residents at the housing estate and 1800 new residents at the Racecourse and Showgrounds.

The estimates do not result in the doubling of Flemington’s population.

The 2175 residents on the Flemington housing estate may welcome 1500 new residents, but the population won’t double.

The population of Travancore has tripled from 900 in 2006 – mainly the ALT tower.

Arden-Macaulay is said to be able to be renewed and redeveloped to accommodate 20,000 new residents after 2040 – most of them in North Melbourne near the North Melbourne Recreation centre and new train station.

Now for the details.

Will Flemington’s population double to 15,500 or 15,665 in the next 20 years (or so)?

Flemington is variously defined. In MVC2040, Flemington includes Travancore and some of Ascot Vale – hence the large figures in the MV2040 document.

Flemington ‘proper’ – including Newmarket, but not Travancore – currently has a population of 8458 people according to id.

Screen Shot 2019-04-05 at 11.21.25 amScreen Shot 2019-04-05 at 11.21.49 am

The 2016 ABS census had the population at 7,719 (2,175 living at the housing estate).

Doubling the 2016 figure would bring it to 15,438. Is this, or 15,665 as in Council docs, the forecast for Flemington for 2036 or 2039?

It’s actually the forecast for Flemington and Travancore:

Screen Shot 2019-04-03 at 11.06.10 pm

This table above seems to be the source of the 15,665 figure in 2036, but this is for Flemington and Travancore – not just Flemington.

The current population of Flemington and Travancore is 11,500 people (approx.). An increase to 15,665 by 2036 is an increase of 36% (of current population), not double.

If we take the 2016 figure as the starting point, the increase in population in Flemington and Travancore is only 47%, again, not double.

Is it possible for Flemington’s population alone to reach 15,500 being a doubling of the current 7,500-8000 people?

The ABS statistical area of Flemington includes the Racecourse and Showgrounds:

Screen Shot 2019-04-05 at 11.37.18 am

The Amendment approved in 2016 for the Racecourse and Showgrounds sets a cap of 820 dwellings in total for future developments on these sites. This could bring, conceivably, 1800 new residents – although they would currently be in the City of Melbourne.

But 1800 new residents is not enough to ‘double’ Flemington’s population from 7500-8000 to 15,500. There would have to be another 6000 new Flemington residents.

With 1500 or so new residents expected on the housing estate, there would still need to be extraordinary growth in Flemington, and a decimation of the population in Travancore to make the numbers work.

In the table below, the numbers in red, and the numbers in blue somehow have to balance. It’s only possible with the loss of 800 of my neighbours in Travancore.

Total Flem/Trav Travancore Flemington MV Flemington CoM Total Flemington
2016 10,300? 2484 7,719 0 7719
2018 11,189 2731 8458 0 8458
2036 15,665 1965? 13,700?


1,800 15,500

So, while there will possibly be 3300 more Flemington residents at the housing estate and the Racecourse and Showgrounds, this will not result in an almost doubling of Flemington’s population by 2036.

Additionally, new residents at the Racecourse and Showgrounds will be in the City of Melbourne and are very unlikely to use facilities a long way away at Debney’s Park.

Will the housing estate population double to 3,800?

If you’ve made it to here, thank you. Explaining numbers is tricky.

I’ll put this more briefly. Half of 3800 is 1900. So is the current estate population 1900 and will the development bring 1900 more people?

The population of the estate in the 2016 census was approximately 2175 – given the difficulties with respect to the collection of accurate data.

The renewal project will create possibly 845 new homes – many of which will be one bedroom. While some estimates project 1800 new residents, a figure of 1500 is more conservative based on the dwelling types.

So the population may grow from 2175 with 1500 new residents to 3675. Even if we said it would increase by 1625 to reach 3800, this is not double.

Has the population of Travancore tripled since 2009?

Travancore’s population has increased from 928 in 2006 to 2731 in 2018, so it has tripled since 2006.

2006 = 928,   2011 = 1705,  2016 = 2484,   2018 = 2731

But according to calculations above, 1000 of us will die before 2036 and not be replaced.

How many people will move into Arden-Macaulay?

“The Arden-Macaulay development area in Parkville sits to the south of Debney’s Park and will bring with it 20,000 new residents….”

a) Arden-Macaulay is not in Parkville – it is in Kensington and North Melbourne.

b) the 20,000 figure is not a projected figure based on growth trends, but a comment about capacity of the area once it undergoes renewal (the focus of which is mainly the Arden area around the new Metro train station in North Melbourne).

The Melbourne Metro Business Case 2016 (the apparent source of the 20,000 figure) states:

“The Victorian Government(31) and Local Government(32) identified Arden-Macaulay Precinct as a key urban renewal site that could catalyse a new CBD-fringe mixed-use office precinct with a potential to accommodate 25,000 residents and in excess of 43,000 jobs.(33)” 

The seven-year-old City of Melbourne document used as a reference for this estimate of capacity is the City of Melbourne, Arden-Macaulay Structure Plan (2012) that includes a graphic indicating population growth of 12,816 people by 2031 and a final capacity of 20,500 at a future time beyond 2040 (not in the next 20 years):

Screen Shot 2019-04-03 at 8.40.20 pm

What does Arden-Macaulay have to do with Moonee Valley?

15,000 of the possible 20,500 residents will be in the Arden precinct which is about 1km away from Debney’s Park, so only 5000 of the expected new residents, at some future time beyond 2040) will be in the precinct near to Debney’s Park.

These residents will be in the City of Melbourne. City of Melbourne has not made any funding commitment to anything in Debney’s Park and barely refers to it the Structure Plan.

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