Plans for growing Bendigo

RELEASE: Key stakeholders, including Matthew Guy (left) read the growth plan. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

RELEASE: Key stakeholders, including Matthew Guy (left) read the growth plan. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

Preparing for a region tipped to hit 300,000 residents by 2041

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BENDIGO must avoid the mistakes of Melbourne as the population significantly grows, Planning Minister Matthew Guy says.

The Loddon Mallee South region, which stretches from Pyramid Hill to Maryborough, Macedon and Elmore, is home to 180,000 people.

That figure is project to grow to 300,000 by 2041, with between 150,000 and 200,000 people expected to live in Bendigo.

We don’t want to see that occur as regional centres grow. - Matthew Guy

Mr Guy, who launched the Loddon Mallee South Regional Growth plan in Bendigo on Tuesday, said Melbourne had experienced several issues in its expansion.

“I think we’ve seen a number of areas in metropolitan Melbourne which are quite a distance from public transport,” he said.

“There are some areas of social disconnect in relation to services, particularly in places like Point Cook, and that’s having to be retrospectively put in place.

“We don’t want to see that occur as regional centres grow.

“That’s why this kind of documentation through a regional growth plan is important.”

The plan, which was created by five councils in collaboration with the state government, sets out how the region should grow.

Mr Guy said there would be issues around preserving agricultural land and concerns with bushfire areas, and that population density and growth in defined locations would also be important considerations.  

“Melbourne is growing at quite a considerable rate - nearly 70,000 or 80,000 people,” he said.  

“It’s disproportionate; Melbourne’s growth is disproportionately high to its level of population in Victoria as a percentage.

“That’s why we have to find ways through the planning sphere to offer a lifestyle alternative to people living in regional Victoria (through) jobs, good transport, (and) having (a) cheaper, more affordable way of life.

“There is no silver bullet.

“But once you put in place a lot of these mechanisms they come together to be a package that attracts people to the regions."

The document says the region has out-paced the rest of regional Victoria for economic growth.

Gross Regional Product increased from $4.62 billion in 2001 to $6.63 billion in 2011.

Key sectors contributing to this growth were financial, health and insurance services, manufacturing and mining. 

The plan aims to target new growth to settlements including Bendigo, Maryborough and Castlemaine, and plan for growth away from high bushfire areas. 

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