Last week the Regional Australia Institute released its ‘Regional Population Growth – Are we ready?’ report. If Australia is serious about managing the increasing pressures on our capital cities and encouraging higher growth in regional cities, the impacts and planning required needs to occur now.

Did you know that Geelong is currently experiencing unprecedented growth of 2.7% and is growing faster than Melbourne?

If we refer to the City of Greater Geelong’s Settlement Strategy – using the ‘aspirational’ population growth rate of 2.5% – Geelong should hit 500,000 in 2047 and one million population in 2075. If we use the Council’s 3% growth rate scenario we reach 500,000 by 2041 and one million at 2065. This is still vastly underestimated the scenarios put forward by the Regional Australia Institute.

According to the Regional Australia Institute’s report, if Geelong takes a larger percentage of Melbourne’s project population growth, we will have 1,120,312 on our doorstops by 2056.

Prime Minister Morrison and The Hon. Alan Tudge, Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure launched the Federal Government’s ‘Planning for Australia’s Future Population’ document which references Geelong as one of Australia’s strongest growing regional centres.

Geelong is uniquely placed and is in an excellent position to continue to grow at accelerated rates by capturing the excess growth from Melbourne.  This growth presents challenges for our community and needs an intelligent, ambitious and action-oriented approach to strategy.

The Committee for Geelong has worked with members to submit to Council’s Amendment C395 – Settlement Strategy and Northern and Western Geelong Growth. This submission provided feedback and observations on Amendment C395 and called for the integrated planning required to manage the strong population growth projected for Geelong.

So, what does this all mean? It means we need to think about how we function as a city-region, how we deal with increasing pressures on our transport, health and education systems, where this population growth will occur and in what fashion, and what it means in terms of impact to the environment and our lifestyle.

As a UNESCO City of Design, the Committee for Geelong is committed to designing our best future. We will use a design-thinking approach to inform our strategic framework. We are currently finalising this approach and are working closely with Deakin University on a range of studies to help inform our future. We are also working with Council on its Vision Partners Forum and how we can best tell

Geelong’s story to the world.

For local business this provides immense opportunity. Investors are looking to increase their spend in Geelong and our local commercial and retail sectors should be the beneficiaries. But we need to plan and design the city we want – one that we can be proud of.

A key focus area for the Committee for Geelong will be on our city’s central district and supporting and informing work to encourage strategic investment and generate greater activity, higher residential living and vibrant nightlife. We want our CBD to be a place of work, entertainment and great experiences.

So, let’s be bold and design the future we want.