(Allow a minute or two for before/after satellite sliders to load)
IN 2007, much of Epsom was sparsely-developed rural land with some new housing developments under way.
Maiden Gully was very much separate from Bendigo.
The land between Eaglehawk and Jackass Flat was mostly undeveloped farmland.
Epsom in 2007, and in 2017:
In the next 10 years, thousands of new houses would be built in these areas, forever changing their view from the sky. They are almost all low density houses built in housing estates.
A satellite analysis of Bendigo from 2007 to 2017 lays bare the rapid development of the city’s outer fringes, where housing estates now populate areas that have always been bush or farmland.
The City of Greater Bendigo released a residential development strategy in 2005 to plan for this expansion. But it greatly underestimated population growth for Bendigo
Eaglehawk/Jackass Flat in 2007, and in 2017:
This population growth shows no sign of slowing.
The council is now planning for at least 18,000 more premises by 2036, at a rate of 900 new premises per year.
The figure was highlighted in the Greater Bendigo Housing Strategy, which was amended in January this year.
Maiden Gully in 2007, and in 2017:
A “compact city” model is now greatly preferred.
City of Greater Bendigo manager of regional sustainable development Trevor Budge said the 900 premises per year figure was relatively conservative, and growth could exceed 1100 premises per year in Bendigo.
“Over the course of 20 years, those extra 200 premises per year would amount to 4000, so it’s important to monitor these projections,” he said.
“What Bendigo is going through is the same as everywhere: high population growth, ageing population and changing nature of households where people have fewer dependents.”
Where will these dwellings fit?
Between 2011 and 2016, 76 per cent of housing development in Bendigo occurred in greenfield lots, and 24 per cent were in-fill land within existing developed suburbs.
Land has already been zoned to cater for 13,500 lots, a further 7000 could be zoned, and 2300 could be available through in-fill development.
That gives the city 25 years of supply – a state government requirement.
But where is all of this land? And can it cater for an increase in population growth above forecast, like in the years from 2005 to 2017?
In Maiden Gully, the Forest Edge development is proposed to house 1300 lots.
The council is investigating Maiden Gully North East, and areas to the north west. A train station could also be built in the area, depending on government rail policies.
The population of the Marong Township is forecast to increase to 8000 by 2035.
Strathfieldsaye’s population will double in that time, from 6500 to 13,000. Land has already been earmarked for further development, focusing on the areas south of the township.
Strathfieldsaye in 2007, and 2017:
The rapid growth in Epsom and Huntly will also continue at pace, particularly to Huntly’s east and southeast.
There will be a “modest” amount of new development in Kangaroo Flat.
While recent housing development has delivered an abundance of three-bedroom homes, this could change in the future.
Mr Budge said the Forest Edge development at Maiden Gully will include a mix of low and medium density housing, setting a new template for housing in a greenfield setting.
Closer to Bendigo, he pointed to the 104-lot development over three hectares of land behind the VicRoads office in East Bendigo as providing more medium density options.
This development, along with Carnegie Way on Mundy Street, allow for developers to construct dwellings which are then sold, rather than just selling blocks of land.
Kangaroo Flat in 2007, and in 2017:
Mr Budge said these types of development were attractive options for council.
“It allows planners to have more control over the type of dwellings that are constructed, rather than have houses built in an ad hoc way that occurs in housing estates,” he said.
“Maiden Gully has developed an enormous amount in 10 years, but one issue we note is that there are no units. This restricts people from moving to this area.
“We’d love to see people being able to live in the neighbourhood they want because there is a variety of housing that caters for all household types.”
Eighty-five per cent of development will occur within Bendigo’s urban growth boundary, and 15 per cent will be in smaller towns of Heathcote, Elmore and Axedale.
The urban growth boundary will be reviewed in 2024 and could extend beyond Junortoun.
Bendigo’s in-fill potential
Mr Budge said Bendigo was in a unique position compared to other regional Victorian cities because it has a larger amount of undeveloped land within its urban growth boundary.
Other cities – like Ballarat, Shepparton and Wodonga – rely on about 90 per cent of development in greenfield sites, and 10 per cent for in-fill.
In Bendigo, these sites include the disused La Trobe University site in Flora Hill, the former Golden Square Secondary College and the North Bendigo Primary School.
High density housing will also be investigated across a range of sites.
The council wants apartment-style developments in the CBD and close to the hospital precinct, near the centres of Eaglehawk, Golden Square and Kangaroo Flat, and close to La Trobe University.
The development at the intersection of Mitchell and Mollison streets could be replicated elsewhere.
Like how town planners in 2005 would not have predicted how Bendigo would look from the sky 10 years later, the amount of variables involved in town planning means current planners would likely be in the same position.
But Mr Budge said the council had its options open for the future.
“There will be a wider variety of housing options developed in Bendigo in the coming decades,” he said.
“Households are changing, and the number of households with one or two people are increasing. People are having fewer children, more households no longer have dependents.”