Twenty years of development space left within existing Bendigo urban growth boundary

Bendigo has around 20 years of development space left within its existing urban growth boundary, a council manager says, as recent policies designed to restrict urban sprawl begin to take effect. 

In 2016, the previous council adopted a ‘compact city’ policy, which, through a number of rezoning measures, promoted the idea of 10-minute neighbourhoods and, in part, encouraged developers to build up instead of out.

City of Greater Bendigo regional development manager Trevor Budge said a recent Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning report estimated Bendigo had more than 25 years of development land left within its existing urban growth boundary – set in 2004 – but the council had a more conservative figure of 20 years.

The vacant land has the potential for 20,000 houses, catering 45,000-50,000 people, Mr Budge said.

The City of Greater Bendigo’s population is expected to grow to 144,632 by 2031 – an increase of more than 30 per cent.

The boundary, which has been moved slightly to include Strathfieldsaye and contracted to exclude an area of Huntly more recently, could be subject to change again, by including Marong, for example, Mr Budge said.

However, no drastic changes to the boundary are expected given the supply of land available, said Mr Budge, who suggested sub 100-lot subdivisions would continue around the municipality. 

Bendigo's urban growth boundaries.

Bendigo's urban growth boundaries.

One current subdivision, a 90-lot development at Ironstone Road – stage 3 of a larger development – is currently before the council’s planning department. 

PRDnationwide Bendigo managing director Tom Isaacs said the supply of land wasn’t the problem, rather when that land came onto the market. 

Mr Isaacs likened land rezoning within the urban growth boundary to the “feast or famine”, saying the market fluctuated with the over or undersupply of land. 

Traditionally, Bendigo had been a ‘infill market’, meaning smaller, sub 50 subdivisions were commonplace, Mr Isaacs said.

Mr Budge said around a third of housing developments in Greater Bendigo came from mum and dad subdivisions, which could help improve the longevity of the existing urban growth boundary.

The council is also investigating up to 30 Crown land sites for potential development. 

Old school sites – like Golden Square Primary School and Golden Square Secondary College – along with the former La Trobe University block in Flora Hill, were being considered as were disused plots of Crown land closer to the CBD, such as Chum Street.

DELWP report into Greater Bendigo urban development