'Super Commuters' Targeted in Regional Cities Growth Plan

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Aisha Dow, The Age
August 19 2016

When Geelong's largest apartment building hits the market next week it is thought up to 30 per cent of buyers will be future "super commuters" from Melbourne. The real estate agent did some exit polls at CBD display suites and found many Melburnians would entertain the idea of moving to the seaside centre and travelling to the city for work, if it meant better housing for their budget. Two-bedroom apartments at the Geelong 1 Apartments will sell off the plan from $389,000.

The project's real estate agent, John Castran from Castran Projects, said if you had the same amount of money in central Melbourne you could probably afford a unit on the lower levels of an apartment tower, with no views. 

"But they don't want to be stuck in a Southbank. They want something with fresh air, looking out onto water," Mr Castran said.

In the coming years, the Victorian government has an ambitious plan to increase the population of the state's regional centres, including people commuting to Melbourne and working from home.

While Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong have enjoyed an annual population growth of between 1.2 per cent and 1.7 per cent in recent years, Planning Minister Richard Wynne says he wants the growth rates of regional Victoria to match Melbourne's (around 2.2 per cent). Mr Wynne said the government would explore moving more state government offices out of Melbourne, while the Victorian Planning Authority (formally the Metropolitan Planning Authority) is working with regional councils to develop 40-year plans for their cities.


More than 100 new apartments will be built in Geelong

The authority's chief executive, Peter Seamer, said in the past some regional towns had grown in a sprawling, ad-hoc manner. "In a town of 15,000 people you shouldn't have to drive 20 minutes to go to the supermarket and what we are doing by the plan is making sure things are more localised and are put in the right place," Mr Seamer said.

Leading regional growth expert, Associate Professor Trevor Budge, said many regional cities "were pretty liveable places".

"Two positives that stand out in comparison with Melbourne are house prices, which are often half the price they are in Melbourne, and then of course the lack of traffic congestion," he said.

"People in regional centres are probably gaining an extra 10 hours a week just on the commuting time they are saving themselves. They're less stressed because they are not spending a lot of time frustrated in traffic."

Professor Budge, who is strategy manager with Greater Bendigo council, said commuting to Melbourne from regional centres had been made easier by recent investment in roads and rail. But in Bendigo he said there had also been a rise in "reserve commuting" for study and work, with the Bendigo Bank headquarters located in Bendigo. "We're actually seeing 10 per cent more people arriving at Bendigo Railway Station every day than are leaving," Professor Budge said.

In the next year 35 years it is forecast Victoria's population will almost double to 10 million, with 2.1 million expected in the regions.

See more at: http://www.theage.com.au/victo...

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