CEO Update – June 2024

20/06/2024

The state government recently released its new draft housing targets including regional cities. Under the proposal, Ballarat will see 46,900 new homes between now and 2050.  If we average this at 2.5 people per dwelling (the current state occupancy rate), that’s an additional 118,000 people living in Ballarat in 2050.

Let us not be afraid of this growth. Let’s embrace it and take the view that Ballarat and the region can take population pressure off Melbourne, with one BIG proviso: that with growth comes ALL the necessary infrastructure, planned and funded.  Schools, medical facilities, community space, integrated transport, telecommunications, water, energy and all the public amenities that delivers what we know thriving and prosperous regional communities need.

Committee for Ballarat will continue to advocate for a population plan for Victoria, not a housing plan. If the targets are just about how many houses we need to build, the plan will fail.

The world-wide Smart Cities movement identifies the successful cities of the future will be those that are inclusive, sustainable, smaller and well-connected in every sense.  The notion of a ‘Mega City’ is failing and with Melbourne’s population projected at 8 million by 2050, Victoria would be bucking the trend to continue down the path that sees 80% of our state’s population living in our metropolitan capital city.

The burning platform is Melbourne’s burgeoning population and the ever-increasing challenges that comes with growth, including housing, infrastructure, social cohesion and connection and transport to name a few. It is time we changed course.

Regionalisation is the answer. Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong as our key regional cities have capacity for greater growth: subject to the proviso mentioned above. Beaufort, Creswick, Clunes, Meredith, Smythesdale, Ballan and so many other towns in our region have capacity for even greater growth, with appropriate investment in all elements that support communities.

Housing is crucial to any plan for growth, including regionalisation. For Ballarat, 46,900 homes in 2025-2051 is just over 1,700 homes per year for 27 years.  In 2021 at our peak, Ballarat bought on 1850 new dwellings – we have some work to do!

For us to deliver on our growth potential will take an enormous collaborative effort, consistently, for the next 25+ years.  This will only happen with a clear commitment to a vision that can position Ballarat as a thriving and prosperous regional city with a population north of 230,000.  It must also include a thriving and prosperous region, such is the importance of the towns that use Ballarat as its hub. In their own right, these towns are so critical to maintaining a highly attractive, well-serviced and liveable region.

Collaboration is key. Business, industry, government and the community working together. If Victoria is to be home to 10 million people by 2050, 8 million of them living in Melbourne is not a proposition that would appeal to many of us, and contrary to what the great cities of the world are aspiring to. We need sustainable, inclusive, prosperous and liveable smaller cities that provide diversity and are well connected.

A population plan focused on regionalisation helps us achieve a ‘better balance for Victoria’. Ballarat should embrace the opportunity to be a thriving and prosperous regional city of size, servicing an amazing and liveable regional area.