THE next step in Harcourt’s planned rapid population growth is approaching after the council approved the rezoning of 4.2 hectares of land near the town centre – and there could be more to come.
Mount Alexander Shire Council is waiting for the planning minister to approve the 32-lot subdivision on Market Street as part of a residential project that could help to push the town’s population from 500 to more than 1100 by 2021.
Harcourt was identified as a rural town with the potential for significant population growth in the Loddon Mallee South Regional Growth Plan.
The housing development, known as Mount View Estate, has a “variety of lot sizes” and demand has been described as “strong”. It follows an adjoining 14-lot subdivision completed in May last year.
The land was previously zoned for farming, but the council believes the residential developments maintain the balance with Harcourt’s horticultural background.
Mount Alexander Shire acting director sustainable development Ben Grounds said it was important to ensure community facilities kept pace with the population growth.
“The Harcourt Progress Association is working with government authorities on plans to re-open the old railway station as a community hub next year, and with VicRoads to improve the entrance to the town from the freeway,” he said.
The council is completing further town planning work with further residential development expected.
“We’ll be conducting further engagement with the community before the end of this year to reaffirm a vision, along with urban growth and streetscape guidelines for Harcourt,” Mr Grounds said.
“This planning will see that residential expansion and job opportunities continue to support local agribusiness and horticultural activity.”
An estimated 100,000 people per year are also predicted to access the recently-opened La Larr Ba Gauwa mountain bike park in Harcourt. Council’s decision to encourage users to park their cars in the centre of town and ride to the park has been criticised by some residents, but these issues will be addressed with further consultation.
The housing development backs onto a tributary of Barkers Creek.