In last week’s Geelong Advertiser, it was reported that “Geelong is missing out on hundreds of millions of dollars to improve local roads and public infrastructure because it is not properly recognised as a growth area.”

There is local advocacy for the State Government to classify Geelong as a growth area and apply the Growth Areas Infrastructure Contribution (GAIC) which currently only applies to the growth areas in Metropolitan Melbourne.

In the Committee for Geelong’s 2018 submission to the City of Greater Geelong’s Draft Settlement Strategy, we also suggested the potential for an infrastructure contribution scheme and reiterated this position recently when we presented to the Settlement Strategy and planning scheme amendment C395 (North and West Growth Areas) Planning Panel.

Why all this now? If Australia is serious about managing the increasing pressures on our capital cities and encouraging higher growth in regional cities, the impacts and planning required needs to occur now.

Geelong is currently experiencing unprecedented growth of 2.7% and is growing faster than Melbourne.  If we refer to the City of Greater Geelong’s Settlement Strategy – using the ‘aspirational’ population growth rate of 2.5% – Geelong should hit 500,000 in 2047 and one million population in 2075.  If we use the Council’s 3% growth rate scenario we reach 500,000 by 2041 and one million at 2065.

Amendment C395 relates to the North and West Growth Areas which is planned for 110,000 people. This is almost twice the size of the current Armstrong Creek growth area.

So, what does this all mean? It means we need to think about how we function as a city-region, how we deal with increasing pressures on our transport, health and education systems, where this population growth will occur and in what fashion, and what it means in terms of impact to the environment and our lifestyle.

If we want Geelong to be an exciting, sophisticated and diverse city that offers a rich lifestyle, broad employment opportunities and an engaging cultural experience – we need to get this right and accept that growth is coming and will continue.

Geelong provides a great opportunity for the state and nation to be an exemplar of ‘good growth.’ But we can’t do this without significant funding for infrastructure for this growth.

The State Government is facing significant budgetary pressures as it delivers on an ambitious transport infrastructure spend. While we can continue to advocate for a greater allocation of funding from the government to support Geelong’s growth, applying a GAIC or equivalent in Geelong’s growth area could be an alternative measure.

To read the Committee for Geelong’s submissions please visit: https://committeeforgeelong.com.au/reports-and-submissions/

Jennifer Cromarty, CEO, Committee for Geelong