Victoria’s 10 largest regional cities are growing twice as fast compared to five years ago, where $4.4 billion will be needed for infrastructure and resources over the next 20 years to support the surging growth.
According to research released by Regional Cities Victoria (RCV), prepared by economic consultancy Essential Economics, the growth rate in the cities jumped from 0.8 per cent between 1991 and 2006 to 1.6 per cent between 2006 and 2011.
The regional cities include the municipalities of Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Horsham, Latrobe, Mildura, Shepparton, Wangaratta, Warrnambool and Wodonga.
Based on this trend, the cities could house over one million people by 2031.
RCV chairman Mark Byatt said the regional cities could contribute to the state’s overall growth and reduce pressure on Melbourne’s already stretched infrastructure.
“Well planned and sustainable higher population levels in regional cities have and will continue to make a positive economic and social contribution to the whole state of Victoria through enhanced investment opportunities, more jobs, better health and education services, as well as greater industry diversification,” Mr Byatt said.
“By supporting growth in the regions, we can help reduce the estimated $95 billion in cumulative congestion costs associated with expanding Melbourne’s outer-metropolitan areas over the next 20 years.”
To meet and manage the long-term needs of the surge in population, the RCV and state government will deliver the Regional Cities Growth Strategy to develop a strategic model for growth and the delivery of infrastructure.
In Victoria, there are 178,860 zoned and unzoned housing lots in regional cities, which could accommodate more than 425,000 people, and 4,700 hectares of zoned and unzoned industrial land, which could accommodate 190,000 jobs.
According to Mr Byatt, the Regional Cities Growth Strategy is due for completion shortly.