CITY of Greater Bendigo councillors will use their last meeting before entering caretaker mode to discuss a 30-year plan to manage the region's forecast population growth.
A report, which will be presented to council at its September meeting on Wednesday, recommends the development of a Managed Growth Strategy.
The report notes the strategy would provide a "holistic, detailed framework for the long-term growth of Greater Bendigo".
It claims that Greater Bendigo has welcomed 2000 new residents annually in recent years.
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If that growth rate continues, there would be 200,000 residents and 40,000 more dwellings by 2050.
"It is difficult to forecast at this stage what the impacts of COVID-19 will be on the longer term growth of Greater Bendigo," the report states.
"However, with more flexibility in working arrangements, combined with the significant state government pipeline of planned investment, Greater Bendigo may become even more attractive to new residents, particularly those seeking to leave Melbourne."
The report noted the city had to "proactively plan" for where the future Greater Bendigo population would live and work.
The strategy would also need to consider the future impact of climate change, and manage threats posed by events such as bushfires and flooding.
Productive agricultural land within the municipality and land with high ecological value should also be protected in the strategy.
The report to be considered by councillors also notes that the city would need to consider whether there was the opportunity to grow some of the rural townships and communities on the outskirts of urban Bendigo.
But the report's author warned the city should try to avoid impacting the unique character of those towns, or the reasons why residents chose to live in those areas.
The report noted a review into the planning scheme showed the need for the Managed Growth Strategy.
"The MGS was identified as a high priority...to provide greater direction as to how council will manage the future of its suburbs, towns, and settlements, and to comprehensively guide long-term development outcomes," the report said.
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"The MGS will build on the significant amount of strategic work which has been undertaken by the city in recent years in planning for residential, employment, public spaces, transport, wellbeing, and the impacts of climate change.
"The MGS will provide a single consolidated plan with detailed directions at a suburb level, outlining preferred development outcomes across Greater Bendigo."
The report noted consultation with stakeholders and residents would be fundamental to the success of the strategy.
"Various state government agencies will be heavily involved in the process to ensure the outcomes are also aligned with their planning," the report said.
"Developers, landowners and the community will have the opportunity to provide feedback at key stages through the process."
It's recommended council endorse the Managed Growth Strategy Project Brief at its meeting on Wednesday, September 16.
The council should then consider financial and staff assistance to support the project in the 2021/2022 budget.
The September 16 meeting will be the final time Greater Bendigo councillors will meet before entering caretaker mode.
The local government elections are due to take place on October 24.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this will be the first year postal voting is used by all councils. Ballot packs will be sent out to Greater Bendigo residents between October 6 and 8.
Votes will need to be sent in by mail or hand-delivered to the Election Manager by 6pm on October 23.
Election results will be declared on November 13.
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