Council releases new document outlining region’s future goals

By Thomas Moir

It may three decades away yet.

But a new document explores the question, what will Greater Shepparton look like in the year 2050?

How will it develop between now and then and how does the city plan for that?

The newly-released paper also raises some key issues and opportunities for the city to consider as it moves across the next 30 years.

The Shepparton and Mooroopna 2050: Regional City Growth Plan, Key Issues and Opportunities Paper is now online and available for public comment after Greater Shepparton City councillors recently voted to authorise its exhibition for feedback until later this month.

The paper anticipates Shepparton and Mooroopna’s population to grow to about 75000 by 2050, for about 29 per cent of the population to be over 60, about 38 per cent are expected to be under 30 while the average household size will be about 2.4 people.

A number of growth corridors and investigation areas are looked at in the paper.

When fully developed, Mooroopna West could have a population of 4000, Shepparton North 2700, Shepparton North East 4000 and Shepparton South East, 6500 people.

Key growth issues and opportunities identified int he document are grouped into several themes.

Under ‘growth’, it suggests agricultural land be protected if further outward expansion occurs, highlights an opportunity to facilitate townhouse, apartment and hop-top housing in the CBD, opportunity to develop under-utilised sites and improve the condition of social housing.

Under ‘economy’ it raises an opportunities for Mooroopna boutique retail and food offerings, for more events and festivals, land identified for industrial growth, a creative arts hub to be investigated and for solar farms to increasingly become an employment generator for the region.

The paper suggests from initial consultation that the river is underutilised for recreation and that while more eco-tourism and function spaces could be developed, that its environmental significance is not compromised.

It suggests road and rail investment could re-shape Shepparton, alongside the continued exploration of a Shepparton airport relocation.

At a council meeting last month, Cr Fern Summer said while it would likely be challenging ‘‘to try to predict what the world is going to be like in 2050,’’ that ‘‘we do need to be on the front foot of these things in terms of infrastructure projects like fast rail and water security.’’

Mayor Kim O’Keeffe last week said report was at this point a ‘‘very open document’’ comprising a ‘‘vision of the future’’.

Looking forward, she highlighted the importance of livability to the city, creating investment and attraction and a city that met the needs of the community.

She said the city should aspire to ‘‘make sure its moving in a positive way’’ while a focus of the document would be to ‘‘have things in place’’ for the future.

Looking towards 2050, Cr O’Keeffe said, ‘‘I’d like to see prosperity, opportunities, a vibrant CBD business community... more services attracting more professionals.’’

The Council is preparing the Shepparton and Mooroopna 2050: Regional City Growth Plan in association with the Victorian Planning Authority.

The plan aims to inform and guide the sustainable development of urban areas of the city to the year 2050.

It will be used to coordinate, guide and inform the preparation and consideration of future, more detailed local plans, planning scheme amendments and planning permit applications, the council says.

The paper hopes to highlight ‘‘some discussion points as a platform to promote feedback from the community and other stakeholders,’’ a council statement said.

Council Sustainable Development director Geraldine Christou encouraged locals to have their say during what was ‘‘the earliest and most vital stage to have your feedback considered before the Growth Plan has even been drafted.’’