Trevor Phillips. Photo: Andrew Perryman.

ONE of the authors of a bold plan for Bendigo as a city of 200,000 in the year 2050 believes urban renewal is critical to the revitalisation of the central business district.

Strategic transport planner Trevor Phillips said the absence of people from the CBD for much of the day is contributing to a decline in commercial activity.

“A second reason is the displacement of offices out of the CBD so that office workers are not interacting in commercial transactions,” Mr Phillips said.

He drew comparisons to the Melbourne CBD in the mid-80s when the “Project Postcode 3000” was successfully launched to re-populate the city using mainly high-rise apartments, and said the Bendigo bank development was a classic example of urban renewal in our city.

“The existing CBD is predominately single-story development with limited ‘historic’ buildings providing notable exceptions, such as Hunter House and the Mill.”

Mr Phillips suggests the area between Edwards Street and Myrtle Street should be declared a redevelopment zone, with buildings repurposed into medium/high density residential, and parking incorporated under residential units.

Nominated historic buildings would be preserved.

The proposal echoes inner-city developer Scott Jackman’s suggestion that residential buildings on the CBD fringes be returned to their original use and people currently working in such premises be encouraged into the CBD.

However, Mr Phillips said his idea would involve consolidation of existing land titles so that the redevelopment is done on a street block by block basis, not by individual titles.

“In time, similar treatment could extend north of Mitchell Street, east of Hargreaves Street between St Andrews Avenue and Myers Street.”

He remains a critic of planning regulations that have allowed for a proliferation of the many “lifestyle” blocks on the perimeter of the city, which he claims represent an impediment to orderly future expansion of the city.

“Over time these areas should be re-zoned to allow redevelopment to normal urban density. This comment particularly applies to the areas within the likely expansion areas of the future city.”

Mr Phillips, together with former Bendigo Bank and Coliban Water director Don Erskine, has called for a rethink on Bendigo’s rapid growth and for decisions to be enacted now to allow for adequate and essential infrastructure, housing and employment in the future.

The pair say modern-day urban growth policy is based on a centralist model which promotes the CBD and promotes incremental growth around the existing urban zones.

“This policy, if taken to extremes, will lead to all the bad features of
urban congestion so evident in many urban areas particularly Melbourne. The policy also fails to recognise the dramatic changes in retailing introduced with the digital age.”