Managing the region’s growth

LATROBE Valley’s population is projected to grow by a third, reaching up to 100,000, in the next 15 to 20 years.

A newly launched planning framework is set to help the region manage that growth, according to Latrobe City Council chief executive Paul Buckley.

Last week the Regional Cities Victoria Growth Framework was released by Regional Cities Victoria which represents Victoria’s 10 largest regional cities, of which Mr Buckley said Latrobe was considered one of the “big four” alongside Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong.

RCV said the framework aimed to “guide” these cities as they planned for “future population growth and economic development”.

A key benefit of the framework would be access to diagnostic tools Mr Buckley said would assist cities to gain a “clear picture of their current infrastructure and services levels” allowing them to “develop strategies to drive investment in the areas that most support their future needs”.

He said Latrobe, as part of RCV, had worked, in collaboration with the State Government, for more than a year on the new framework’s development.

“If Latrobe City is to continue to grow strongly we need to have the infrastructure to accommodate a greater share of that growth,” he said.

Mr Buckley said the framework could be applied to a wide range of services and scenarios and used the future demand on primary school places as an example.

“If we took primary school places – and we predict the population will grow by between 20,000 to 30,000 over the next 15 to 20 years – if we plug in that information we can guide the department of education, to say how many places we need to have at particular intervals… and we have the evidence available to (support this) and help secure the funding to contribute to those places,” he said.

Mr Buckley said the framework’s diagnostic capacity was expected to provide more accurate information, for planning purposes, than historical census data.

Over the next six months LCC would use the tool internally to help collate an accurate current profile of Latrobe, he added.

He said the State Government had “contributed significant funding” to the framework and would also make use of its diagnostic tools.

“If you look at the metropolitan strategy, soon to be finalised, it talks about Victoria being a ‘state of cities’, recognising we can’t continue to just grow the population in Melbourne, it needs to distribute more of that growth into the regional cities of Victoria to make the state more liveable,” Mr Buckley said.

Premier and Regional Cities Minister Denis Napthine confirmed that view, saying “by achieving moderate population growth in Melbourne and accelerated population growth in regional cities, we can deliver greater economic and cultural diversity in regional Victoria”.