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Geelong Advertiser Opinion Piece - Plan Melbourne: Geelong’s role in Victoria’s third population boom

Victoria is entering its third population boom, according to the Victorian State Government's Plan Melbourne 2017-2050, with state-wide population growth expected to increase by 5.5 million by 2051. The recently revamped Plan Melbourne strategy seeks to protect Melbourne's status as the world's most liveable city, but also accommodate its unprecedented population growth - which is expected to exceed 10 million by 2051. Critical planning for infrastructure, transport, jobs and sustainability is therefore essential.  

In recognising the substantial impact Plan Melbourne will have on the future of our region, the Committee for Geelong (CfG) lodged a submission to the Plan Melbourne Refresh Discussion Paper, seeking for Geelong to be formally recognised as Victoria's second city.  It is therefore pleasing to see that the recently released Plan Melbourne now formally acknowledges Geelong's status as Victoria's second city, and this terminology appears as a new clause in the Greater Geelong planning scheme.  However, if Geelong fails to position itself to respond to this change, or the projected changes of population growth, our region will miss some significant opportunities.

Plan Melbourne is clear - Melbourne will continue to grow. The Western Region, the largest growth corridor in Australia, is projected to have a population growth of nearly 1 million by 2050. So, where does that leave Geelong? According to the 2013 G21 Regional Growth Plan, the Geelong region is expected to grow to 500,000 by 2050. As a waterfront city, positioned in close proximity to Melbourne and Avalon Airport, it could be argued that the current estimates clearly undervalue the potential of our city-region.

Plan Melbourne states that "Growing Geelong as Victoria's second city," is a key regional initiative to be achieved by; prioritising land-use strategies; re-energising the CBD; and planning for the non-urban break between Melbourne and Geelong with the Avalon Corridor Strategy and Port of Geelong. All with the purpose to "position the G21 region for accelerated growth."

The Committee's Winning from Second research, which was undertaken in collaboration with the United Nations Global Compact - Cities Programme and RMIT's Centre for Urban Research, and with support from the Commonwealth Bank and a range of other partners, examined international cities comparable to Geelong in order to understand how these cities leveraged their second city status and harnessed economic growth. An overarching recommendation of our Winning from Second report is the need for State and Federal Governments to implement a second city policy, which will provide economic benefit. Research has shown that there are significant benefits gained from a greater policy focus on second cities like Geelong and - in order for Geelong to facilitate investment, job creation and population growth - a formal policy is required to ensure there is adequate infrastructure to accommodate our growing city.

As we've seen in the recent State Budget, Geelong is identified as one of Australia's leading regional centres.  With that, a supporting policy framework is needed to guide our city's growth over the next 35 years and reflect its specific status in both Victoria and Australia.

A copy of Plan Melbourne can be found:



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