BENDIGO is on a race against other regional cities to attract millenials priced out of living in Melbourne and Sydney, according to a consultant starting the public discussion about the city’s new parking strategy.

Sydney-based principal urban strategist Steven Burgess told Bendigo residents at a forum this week that statistics showed for the first time a dip in the population of millenials living in Melbourne and Sydney.

He said the millenial generation loved affordable, busy, walkable cities and they loved to spend money.

But they were threatening to move to Tasmania, to Hobart where the Museum of Old and New Art has been attracting visitors, or Launceston where it was easy to get around without a car.

The City of Greater Bendigo is in the process of beginning a parking strategy that will impose controls over the next generation of inner city development projects.

Simultaneously, the council would review the CBD strategy, council’s CBD place manager Phil DeAraugo said at the forum.

Mr Burgess got a mix of responses to his question asking residents what they would want to change about their city, if they had the opportunity.

Responses included making parking free in the CBD, building a Bendigo Creek that could be a cycle way into the city, issuing permits for parking for residents, changing the mix of retailers and moving people back into houses near the centre that now contain businesses.

But he appeared to have convinced people not to build more parking, and suggested the way to reduce parking was not to remove what was there, but to build less or no more.

That would appeal to developers because reserving space for parking was expensive, Mr Burgess said.

Bendigo’s shape also encouraged residents to drive into the city.

Large housing estates on the city fringes meant residents had to have a car to get around.

But differently shaped cities, those with many people living in the centre and fewer on the outskirts, allowed residents to walk and cycle to shop, go to work and go out.

And Bendigo was as guilty as many other regional cities, he said, of widening roads and building more parking when ratepayers complained about traffic snarls and not being able to park outside of shops.

“These cities use a big stack of ratepayer’s money to reduce traffic congestion and to make sure parking is nearly free,” Mr Burgess said.

“But if you are a retailer, the strategy really hurts because instead of walking past their shop, people will drive past.

“Car parking is not what people rave about when they get back from Europe.”

Creating a new parking strategy in Bendigo will allow the council to remove the minimum amount of spaces it mandates for a new development.

Current term councillors have already disregarded the planning control that sets a minimum number of spaces.

For the Aspire project, it approved development without the need to build any new spaces but asked the developer to contribute a sum of money.

In a sign change won’t be easy for the council, nearby residents tested the decision at VCAT, but were denied.