Budget hope for big towns

A REGIONAL growth plan identifying potential population and economic growth in the Great South Coast is likely to get a kickstart in tomorrow’s state budget.

It is one of eight designated regions identified for future growth to handle more than 2.2 million people expected to live outside metropolitan areas by 2051.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy met regional council chief executives on Friday including Warrnambool’s Bruce Anson to discuss the forward planning.

He launched regional plans for Central Highlands and Loddon Mallee South earlier in the week and is expected to launch the Great South Coast plan later in the month setting out the broad vision and issues to be tackled.

“During the next four decades we’re expecting a 57 per cent increase in our regional population,” he said.

Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo are expected to house about a third of Victoria’s regional population with Warrnambool also tipped to accommodate a significant slice. His department indicated there would be money allocated in tomorrow’s budget to help with the rollout.

Great South Coast Group chairman Cr Chris O’Connor of Terang said the plan was designed to create investment in the region and maximise growth potential.

“All the member councils have signed off on it,” he said.

The plan looks at a population target in the region of 124,800 by 2031 and 142,000 by 2041. Warrnambool is tipped to hit 43,930 by 2031.

pcollins@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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