Greater Bendigo Drafts Strategies for Future Growth Management

Council will consider the next steps for two major draft strategies that are being developed to plan and manage future growth in Greater Bendigo over the next 30 years.

The City estimates there will be around 87,000 more residents living in Bendigo, with around 38,000 new dwellings needed by 2056 to meet the needs of an increasing population.

Much of this growth will be driven by residents choosing to live in Greater Bendigo for longer, community birth rates and more people moving to Greater Bendigo from surrounding areas in central Victoria.

The draft Managed Growth Strategy aims to provide clear guidance on housing growth with a focus on directing more housing to areas that are close to existing services, community infrastructure, transport, and accessible to job opportunities.

The draft Managed Growth Strategy establishes a policy position of 70 per cent of urban development to occur in existing established areas with the remaining 30 per cent in growth areas such as Marong, Maiden Gully, Strathfieldsaye, and Huntly, subject to further investigation for appropriate development based on bushfire and flooding risks. Currently around 50 per cent of urban development is occurring in growth areas.

This proposed policy shift is important for a variety of reasons including environmental impacts and constraints, the need to further minimise the impact on productive agricultural land and the greater economic cost of delivering and maintaining infrastructure in growth areas.

A draft Housing and Neighbourhood Character Strategy has been prepared at the same time as the Managed Growth Strategy. This outlines how the region will accommodate growth and make sure that any new developments, such as units, townhouses, and some multi storey developments, suit their surroundings next to existing homes and businesses.

It is important to note, multi-storey developments would be subject to planning permits and only be built in certain areas, like close to public transport and shops.

This character strategy outlines where we can expect minimal, incremental, and substantial change when it comes to building new places to live.

Director Strategy and Growth Rachel Lee said determining areas for growth in Greater Bendigo involved many factors for consideration.

"Greater Bendigo benefits from having an Urban Growth Boundary in the Greater Bendigo Planning Scheme. This is in place to discourage further outward expansion given the environmental and social impacts, and greater financial costs in delivering infrastructure in non-serviced areas," Ms Lee said.

"Increasing the diversity and amount of housing in well located areas will help to reduce environmental and financial costs, improve liveability, and enable better access to services and facilities.

"While the implementation of the Managed Growth Strategy will introduce strong policy to deliver more housing in existing areas, it also provides direction for some expansion to areas close to the existing Urban Growth Boundary in Huntly and Strathfieldsaye in appropriate areas.

"This will be needed over the medium term to address market demand and housing affordability challenges.

"Residents should be aware that it is not a long term solution to continually expand the Urban Growth Boundary. The focus will be to develop within existing areas in the future to ensure additional and diverse housing can be delivered to meet changing household needs."

If the next Council meeting on Monday May 27 approves the next steps for the draft strategies, a six-week public engagement and consultation will begin. The strategies will then be considered for final adoption at a future Council meeting in the coming months.

The draft Managed Growth Strategy and the summary document can be found on the Council meeting agenda.

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