CBD makover at heart of 30-year draft plan for Bendigo prosperity

CENTRED: A plan for Bendigo's future has the iconic CBD at its core. Courts, the Chinese precinct and the TAFE campus are all in line for upgrade.
CENTRED: A plan for Bendigo's future has the iconic CBD at its core. Courts, the Chinese precinct and the TAFE campus are all in line for upgrade.

A transformed city centre is at the heart of a 30-year plan the Bendigo council hopes will ready the region for a boom in population and economic growth.   

A list of 18 priority projects are named in the Plan Greater Bendigo draft, which will be tabled at a council meeting on Wednesday night. 

Several of the large-scale items – including upgrades to the law courts, TAFE campus and Chinese museum – are located inside the CBD.

A transformation of the Bendigo railway station into a “European feel” activity hub is also among the centrally located projects on the list, as is a proposed “Gov Hub” that would house several government agencies. 

City of Greater Bendigo regional sustainable development manager Trevor Budge said improving or re-purposing existing spaces inside the CBD was a sustainable alternative to building new facilities out of town.

It also prevented Bendigo from becoming what he called a “donut city”, in which suburban development left the CBD to dwindle, he said. 

By 2050, about 10,000 people – five per cent of Bendigionians – would call the city centre home, the plan predicted, with residents living above shops and in medium-density housing.

The compact city approach was respectful of Bendigo’s forest surrounds, Mr Budge said, and would also cut down the duration of people’s commute to work. 

While some projects were further from fruition than others, Regional Development Victoria director Stan Liacos said they were not simply an aspiration.

“Many of them are well-grounded in good strategy and are subject to business case analyses,” Mr Liacos said.

He believed the state government would consider funding for the Gov Hub concept as early as next year, a project he said would mean more jobs for the city.

“To grow a great regional city, you need to continue to enhance the city centre, and the Bendigo city centre is always in need of continual reinvestment to, in essence, grow the vibrancy and jobs that the community desires,” Mr Liacos said.

The draft plan heeded the results of community consultation, naming Bendigo Airport a the city’s underground water network as priorities. An arterial road – one of residents’ top picks – is not one of the 18 projects listed, but “supporting infrastructure and a freight policy” is included in the Marong Business Park description.