Liveability is a key pillar of Committee’s work to deliver our members’ vision for a thriving and vibrant regional community. Sustainable development is at the core of our decision-making, particularly in relation to renewable energy, the circular economy, water and housing.
It is housing that has attracted much discussion in recent times as we continue to see our population grow.
The recent decision by Council to define three new Urban Growth Zones is significant and, as noted by the Mayor Daniel Moloney, it will “affect every resident in Ballarat: how we live, where we live and how we move around”.
Decisions regarding our growth must not be limited to the new Urban Growth Zones on the fringe of the city.
Committee has long advocated for – and will continue to advocate for – a balanced approach to ‘Green-field’ and ‘In-fill’ development. Whilst the developments of the Nightingale project and the recent Lyons Street North project are positive, far more needs to be done now to encourage appropriate and desirable inner-city development.
The City of Ballarat’s Master Plan for Bakery Hill and the opening of Bridge Street are opportunities for contemporary urban redevelopment, and we anxiously await decisions that will realise the potential of these important city precincts, including inner-city living. It is disappointing that the development of a Master Plan for the Station South Side Precinct (including the north side of Mair Street to Peel Street) has now been paused, with lost opportunity the only result.
I often hear it said, “not everyone wants to live in an inner-city apartment”. Nor can it be said that everyone wants to live in a new housing estate on the fringe of the city. The answer is not one over the other, rather it is both and everything in-between. Diversity of housing is the only way to provision appropriately for our growing population’s needs.
To achieve the outcomes requires robust and comprehensive planning. We know that such planning requires long lead times as well as the strategic and policy direction that gives the development industry confidence and certainty. Such confidence and certainty will require the resources of local government to be spread evenly across all areas of growth.
The identification of the new Urban Growth Zones, as important as they are, must not be allowed to ‘railroad’ the planning process at the expense of the city’s other growth opportunities, such as in-fill and inner-city development. It is pleasing to see that the City of Ballarat is strengthening its planning capability with new appointments and this increased capability must be enabled to work across all areas of growth in the city.
The anticipated new Housing Strategy will set the vision and ideally position diversity of housing stock as a key requirement in meeting our growth needs. The Strategy must be matched with the resources to deliver the planning outcomes. This will be achieved with an outstanding team of planners working in collaboration every day with the development industry to ensure our city’s growth is balanced and that Ballarat continues to be a shining example of a highly desirable, liveable city.