Bendigo CBD. pic by Andrew Perryman.

THE architects of a bold plan to
establish satellite communities on the fringes of Bendigo to cater for the city’s growth towards a population of 200,000 have this week briefed City of Greater Bendigo councillors on concepts first revealed in the Bendigo Weekly during May.

Bendigo’s population is expected to surge past 200,000 by the year 2050, as the city continues its upward growth trajectory of about
1.7 per cent annually.

Former Bendigo Bank and Coliban Water director Don Erskine and strategic transport planner Trevor Phillips outlined their proposal to create employment zones on the fringes of Bendigo, serviced by a network of new and upgraded roads as part of a proposal that has generated considerable interest from residents and council representatives.

The pair say a polycentric model where independent self-contained suburbs similar to how Canberra has evolved could be developed at Maiden Gully, Strathfieldsaye and Marong.

They presented their ideas to councillors on Wednesday during an informal presentation where the pair encouraged and highlighted the importance of long term planning for the community.

Mr Phillips yesterday said the pair appreciated the opportunity to talk to councillors, and were grateful for the positive reception they had received, and added they looked forward to further talks in the future.

Director of strategy and growth Bernie O’Sullivan said he commended Mr Erskine and Mr Phillips for their ideas and work on Bendigo in the future, and said the city was keen to have discussions with people to look at how we continue to plan for growth.

He also cited a suite of council plans and documents, including the economic development strategy refresh which involves community and business leaders, the industrial land strategy, the city centre plan, the car parking strategy, and the Greater Bendigo public space plan as examples of the good strategic work currently underway.

Mr O’Sullivan said a settlement strategy for Greater Bendigo was something that “goes to the heart” of what Mr Erskine and Mr Phillips have proposed.

“We are well advanced in the
review of the whole Greater Bendigo Planning Scheme, and in the past we have reviewed elements of it. We have done particular strategies and we have bolted these on to the planning scheme over time.

“This is a complete rewrite to make sure we have modern planning provisions to support the city to grow.”

He said the large number of policy plans and documents under review would feed into what people such as Mr Erskine and Mr Phillips have called for.

“Can we think big? Absolutely, we can think big and we want to think big with you.”

Previous council studies show the north-south alignment of Bendigo was problematic.

Mr O’Sullivan said he understood the concept of better using the Ravenswood interchange, the Calder Alternate, or another alignment in the future to potentially bypass Marong with a connector road to Epsom or Huntly.

“We’d like not to have b-double trucks go through the centre of town if at all possible and truck drivers would support that so we need to plan, long term, as to how we best do that.”

Research shows the importance of the western side of Bendigo – an area that includes Maiden Gully and Marong as being not only key growth areas but also as areas for potential future industrial land
development, and for a future
bypass of the city centre.

“It has a lot of merit and it’s one we want to continue to explore with regional Roads Victoria and other agencies,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

Peter Kennedy