The final version of Victoria’s new strategic planning document, Plan Melbourne, was released in May this year. The plan implements a new spatial framework that splits the metropolitan region into five subregions, in recognition of the need to plan for the future at the subregional scale. This new subregional focus provides a mechanism for achieving a better balance between population and employment opportunities across Melbourne’s metropolitan area. Additionally, Plan Melbourne seeks to reimagine Victoria as a State of Cities, recognising the economic advantages inherent in its relatively large and closely-linked regional city network. The combination of these two aspects of the plan presents an exciting set of opportunities for the Geelong-Wyndham corridor. By refocussing the state government’s attention toward the traditionally neglected western region of Melbourne, the Plan presents a range of growth opportunities for Wyndham, the westernmost LGA in the western subregion. Wyndham’s population has grown dramatically over the past decade, but this growth has not been matched by employment creation, and consequently the LGA faces a critical shortage of employment opportunities. Of the jobs that do exist, comparatively few are white-collar. With Wyndham’s rapid population growth expected to continue, there is a pressing need to increase the quantity, as well as the diversity of job opportunities through the subregion.
The Plan facilitates an integrated land-use and transport plan that recognises the evolution of an Integrated Economic Triangle, which specifies a range of new and upgraded freight and transport corridors linking major infrastructure as well as six Employment Clusters. One such employment cluster will be located in Wyndham at East Werribee, and is slated to provide an additional 60,000 mainly white collar jobs for the region by 2050. This site will be easily accessible by road or rail to Melbourne’s newly redeveloped second airport at Avalon, and minutes from the Outer Metropolitan Ring Road (OMR), a key piece of road and rail infrastructure that will integrate the economy of Melbourne’s western subregion with markets in regional Victoria and the northern states.
With its regional focus, the strategy also seeks to unlock the economic potential of regional cities such as Geelong, situated around 45 kilometres southwest of Wyndham. Geelong is Victoria’s most important regional city and serves a vital role as a regional service provider, with its traditionally strong manufacturing and industrial sectors in decline. Whilst Geelong hasn’t experienced population growth on the same scale as Wyndham, there is a need to modernise the city’s economy by attracting knowledge-economy firms and white-collar workers. With the impending Avalon Airport expansion, the soon to open Regional Rail Link, and the future construction of the OMR, Geelong’s exposure to national and global markets will be dramatically improved, bringing a new set of opportunities for economic development within the city.
Plan Melbourne outlines an infrastructure-led approach to economic development that seeks to unlock the economic potential of places that have been historically overlooked by strategic planning policy. By recognising and embracing this shift in state government focus, Geelong and Wyndham are well placed to benefit from the redistribution of economic opportunity that Plan Melbourne will bring about.
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