THE state government has backed a growth plan for the south-west which predicts the region’s population will expand to 132,000 people by 2041.
Released last week, The Great South Coast Regional Growth Plan tips Warrnambool as the major driver of growth in coming decades.
The government has prepared eight regional plans with country Victoria’s population tipped to exceed two million in the coming decades.
There are no funding promises or proposals in the 88-page document.
The paper covers the region’s five councils including Corangamite, Glenelg, Moyne, Southern Grampians and Warrnambool.
Duplication of the Princes Highway, protecting farmland from urban expansion and better passenger rail services were listed among the challenges and priorities.
The report found half of the region’s growth in the past five years has been confined to Warrnambool.
Climate change was also cited as a future issue for developers.
However, the report doesn’t specifically acknowledge local issues, such as the region’s poor year 12 attainment rate.
Great South Coast Group chairman and Corangamite mayor Chris O’Connor said the paper gave councils something to stand on when it came to government funding.
“From a council point of view, it gives us some credibility when we go to the state government,” Cr O’Connor said.
Planning Minister Matthew Guy, who launched the blueprint in Hamilton, said Warrnambool would remain the key population and employment centre for the south-west.
“The regional growth plan encourages building on the region’s transport assets to connect communities, further developing freight and logistics opportunities, and supporting agriculture and tourism,” Mr Guy said.
Southern Grampians Shire mayor Albert Calvano said the growth plan would help councils with the best use of land and resources.
“With Victoria’s population forecast to grow by around three million people over the next 30 years, the state government is talking about creating a ‘state of cities’, he said.
“We believe that regional Victoria has much to offer and the growth plans that define the roles for regional centres like Warrnambool, Portland and Hamilton have an important role to play in that strategy.”