DEVELOPERS have warned the City of Greater Bendigo that it lacks a clear vision to manage growth as the council grapples with ways to house 80,000 new residents over 30 years.
Their feedback has helped inform a new "issues and opportunities" paper councillors voted to release for public consultation on Monday night.
The council might need to house a total population of 200,000 by 2050. It currently is at about 120,000.
The council's new wide-ranging paper examines everything from the municipal growth boundaries hemming in growth on the city's outskirts to the size of houses, infrastructure and employment.
It is part of early work on a long term project to upgrade the city's municipal growth strategy.
Developers have already told the council multiple barriers exist in Bendigo including a lack of greenfield development sites, the time needed to get land to market and high costs for medium density development.
Cr Margaret O'Rourke said it was one of the most important documents the council would look at during its four-year term.
"There will be a strong focus on urban areas of Bendigo, and an update to the rural strategy that will commence in the second half of 2022," she said.
The council also wants to invite farmland owners to nominate land that could be earmarked for future development.
"This will be the subject of further investigation," Cr O'Rourke said.
Bendigo is already seeing potential shifts among the people who choose to move in.
Historically, most people migrating in have come from nearby shires but increasing numbers of Melbournians have been moving in.
The discussion paper says it is difficult to predict the long term impacts of COVID-19 on population growth, which have triggered complex and sometimes wildly differing predictions about the future.
"But if flexible working arrangements continue, this is likely to make Greater Bendigo an attractive option for Melbourne residents seeking a 'tree-change' over the longer term," it said.
Cr Jen Alden said it was critical that the council understand what people were seeking in Bendigo.
"Be it a healthier lifestyle, amenities, jobs ... education or the environment of a city in a forest," she said.
"We need to avoid making mistakes that might have happened here and elsewhere as we progress into that era ... where the impacts of a changing climate and a serious decline in biodiversity affects the underpinnings of agriculture and livability that we rely on."
Cr Alden said it would not be enough to simply open up land for "sprawling development".
She feared some areas elsewhere in the state were already being overdeveloped, creating heat islands that would make some neighbourhoods virtually unlivable as climate change intensifies.
Public consultations will take place through February.
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