Peri-Urban: rural towns and planning strategy

Rural towns next in the sights of planning strategy   Care needs to be taken when looking to peri-urban areas for sustaining growth.

Rural towns. Towns like Ballan, Broadford, Kilmore and Wonthaggi have been targeted in the new metro plan for accelerated growth.

Communities in Melbourne’s peri-urban area have awoken to find that the state government sees them as part of the answer to accommodating the city’s burgeoning population.

Peri-urban areas are that conflicting mix of agriculture, forests, quaint rural towns, low-density sprawl and, recently, bushfire-prone areas, fanning out for about 100 kilometres from Melbourne. They are already facing issues such as biosecurity, loss of agricultural land and tourism proposals.

Towns like Ballan, Broadford, Kilmore and Wonthaggi have been targeted in the new metro plan for accelerated growth. It has led to substantial new residential development. However, it’s nothing like the increase in the numbers of new residents in the Melbourne growth corridors. But times are changing.

Listing towns for consideration for accelerated development and designating regional cities such as Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong to accommodate more growth is now firmly on the agenda. This is a far better approach than the predecessor Melbourne 2030, which raised expectations with vague references to the role of regional cities and their transport corridors.

Local councils will be concerned at their and the state government’s capacity to keep up with the demands for new facilities and services in the peri-urban. Communities will be looking for local jobs to accompany the growth.

Melbourne relies on its peri-urban area for much of its fresh food.

The peri-urban areas also play critical roles for water supply. And of course these areas have proven to be some of the most vulnerable in terms of bushfires. There will be many questioning development in these places if there is a prospect of greater loss of life from wildfire.

The peri-urban has been largely overshadowed by the growth of metropolitan areas for years. But it appears its time has come. Its future, and that of the next generation of residents, is in the balance.

Trevor Budge

Trevor Budge AO

Trevor Budge AM

Trevor Budge is an associate professor and heads the community planning and development program at La Trobe’s Bendigo campus. He is a former president of the Victorian division of the Planning Institute of Australia.



Read more: The Age, October 11, 2013, Trevor Budge

Trevor Budge will be a keynote speaker at the Regional Development  Conference. It will be held in Albury NSW on the 15 – 16 October 2014 with a focus on the broad issues of economic, planning, environment and community development.

Call for papers

Authors or organisations interested in submitting a paper or presenting a workshop are invited to submit an abstract of no more than 300 words outlining the aims, contents and conclusions of their paper or presentation; or about their intended role in a workshop.

Australian Regional Development Conference

RDA Conference15-16 October 2014, The Commercial Club Albury
Secretariat (T) 61 7 5502 2068 (F) 07 5527 3298
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