The Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (GMCT) is seeking a suitably qualified consortium to lead the master planning process for a new cemetery development at Harkness adjoining Melbourne's West Growth Corridor.
"Our 128-hectare greenfield site at Harkness represents the largest cemetery development project in Victoria for over 100 years," said CEO Deb Ganderton.
Victorians are fortunate to benefit from the foresight of planners who set aside land to meet future community needs, including our greenfield site at Harkness.
"This development is an unprecedented opportunity for a consortium to work with GMCT, our communities and our stakeholders to reimagine the public cemetery and what it can offer to the diverse communities we serve," said Trust Chair Michael Doery.
The Trust's vision for the site at Harkness is to create "a trusted and reassuring sanctuary that evokes feelings of warmth, comfort and peace to connect people with the qualities of nature and community."
Reimagining cemeteries as public open space
As Melbourne continues to rapidly expand, our city faces a range of challenges including increased population density, urban sprawl, climate change and a lack of sufficient open public space.
"As the managers of public spaces with large footprints and long lifespans, we believe our cemeteries and memorial parks have an increasingly important role to play in addressing these challenges," Ganderton said.
The creation of a master plan for the greenfield site at Harkness provides an opportunity to reimagine the public cemetery as a green, mixed-use, open public space that will contribute significantly to community wellbeing for generations to come.
The Harkness site is located on the lands of the Wurundjeri people. Around 100 mature grey box trees on the eastern side of the site are several hundred years old, and some are 'scarred' trees.
The Melton Gilgai Woodlands Nature Conservation Reserve at the north-west corner of the site Is the last remnant of a larger woodland, and is subject to an Environmental Significance Overlay. It is home to various endangered species.
Within the site there's evidence of a vestigial waterway connecting the Gilgai Reserve with the lower reaches of the Arnolds Creek corridor, to Werribee River. This forms part of a significant biodiversity corridor network In Melbourne's West.
A responsive, community-oriented master planning process will ensure we honour and protect the cultural and environmental values of the site, while forging meaningful connections with the community.
The local context
Harkness is one of Victoria's newest suburbs, located between Melton West and Toolern Vale adjoining the West Growth Corridor approximately 35km northwest of the Melbourne CBD.
It is part of the City of Melton, a Local Government Authority that spans 265.9 km squared and is home to 135,443 people [2016 census).
With residential areas to one side and green wedge zones on the other, the site Is located near the edge of Melbourne's growth zone boundary and has been leased to a local farmer who has been In the area for multiple generations.
Established In 2010, GMCT Is a self-funding Class A Cemetery Trust regulated under the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003 [Vic]. We report to the Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS] and are governed by a Trust appointed by the Minister for Health.
Our operations cover the north, west and east regions of metropolitan Melbourne, and we manage 19 cemeteries plus two greenfield sites, including the greenfield site at Harkness.
We are a trusted partner supporting Victorian families through their experiences of life, death and grieving. We provide burial, cremation and memorialisation services to meet the needs of our diverse communities, and we encourage families to plan ahead.