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Committee for Geelong's Weekly Addy Opinion Piece - Plan Melbourne

Late last year, the Committee for Geelong lodged a submission to the Plan Melbourne Refresh Discussion Paper October 2015.  This paper refines the vision for Melbourne's growth to 2050, and will have a substantial impact on the future development of our region.  It was pleasing to see that many of the Committee's recommended changes to Plan Melbourne have been considered in the Discussion Paper.  These changes will be implemented in Plan Melbourne 2016. 

The Committee was particularly delighted that Plan Melbourne will be updated to: "designate Geelong as Victoria's second city and prioritise game changing land use strategies such as those for Avalon Airport, Port of Geelong, improved arterial road connections and high quality health, tertiary education and research infrastructure that positions the G21 region for accelerated growth and as a centre for employment and higher order service provision for Melbourne's west".

Given this, the Committee has recommended that Plan Melbourne 2016 includes a specific policy action to develop a 'Second-tier City' policy for Geelong.  This policy will define the strategic directions and implementation strategies to reinforce Geelong's position as Victoria's second largest city. Geelong currently does not have an articulated second city policy position. A new second-tier city policy will build on the G21 Regional Growth Plan and other strategic work. We envision that this policy would be developed in collaboration with the City of Greater Geelong, G21 Geelong Region Alliance, together with the Victorian State Government, including the Geelong Authority, and our wider community.

It is anticipated that the second-tier city discussion could also form part of a national policy framework about the role and strategic priorities of second-tier cities throughout Australia.  It is clear from academic research that underinvestment in second-tier cities presents risks of national economic underperformance. A strong second-tier city policy for the largest city economies (outside of the major cities in each State) will greatly benefit Australia into the future.  We sought changes to Plan Melbourne 2016 to specify the development of a second-tier city policy for Geelong and, by doing so, the State of Victoria will have the opportunity to create an inaugural policy direction for second-tier cities in our nation. 

Other recommendations in the Committee's submission included: setting targets for housing growth in regional areas to help manage growth in high growth locations; securing a rail connection for Avalon Airport and position it as Victoria's second airport; making reference to the Geelong Authority in Plan Melbourne 2016, including its priorities and short term actions and; extending the Victorian Planning Authority's terms of reference to key projects in Geelong. 

Through our submission, the Committee also advocated for improved road and rail connections between Geelong and Melbourne.  These are critical to Geelong's future growth. While investment in the Western Distributor project is designed to ease traffic, we encourage the State Government to continue to focus on long term solutions for connections from Western Victoria to Eastern Victoria.

As Melbourne continues to burst at the seams, it is vital that Plan Melbourne acknowledges the opportunities our transforming region can provide to assist with Melbourne's growth.


Rebecca Casson is the Committee for Geelong Chief Executive Officer. Follow the Committee for Geelong on Twitter @Comm4Geelong.



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