Moorabool Shire Council Braces For Eastern Population Boom

The Moorabool Shire is bracing for the municipality’s biggest town to double in size over the next 20 years, putting a major strain on the region’s infrastructure.

Councillors unanimously voted to adopt the Bacchus Marsh Urban Growth Framework at a regular meeting on Wednesday night, which set out the strategy for the town’s expansion over the next two decades.

East Moorabool Ward councillor David Edwards said the rapid growth in the shire’s east presented a series of challenges in insuring adequate infrastructure was in place.

“This is why it’s so important the we do the right planning now,” Cr Edwards said. “It’s a very unique challenge because we’ve got to retain jobs and attract new jobs.”

The plan presented to council focused on growth in the Parwan Station area to the south of Bacchus Marsh as well as Merrimu to the north-east.

The two developments are expected to house 13,000 and 20,000 residents each respectively in the coming 20 years.

All up the shire’s population is expected to explode by 65 per cent over the next 23 years, with council figures suggesting the municipality will be home to more than 54,000 residents by 2041.

The council is also developing the $13.83 million Parwan Employment Precinct, which it hopes will attract 1200 new jobs in industries such as meat and fresh produce production.

Victorian Planning Authority’s regional Victoria director Damien Kennedy said while Bacchus Marsh was experiencing significant growth, it was not out of line with other peri-urban towns on Melbourne’s fringe.

“Melbourne growth has been extremely strong so it influences what happens elsewhere around the state,” Mr Kennedy said.

“People will make a choice based on a range of factors, the ability to have larger blocks and have the homes they want in a regional setting (is attractive).”

Construction of an eastern link road to ease congestion through the middle of Bacchus Marsh will be among the top priorities in dealing with the population boom.

In 2017 the state government pledged $3 million to undertake detailed planning and to formulate a business case, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

While construction of the first homes in Merrimu and Parwan Station is expected to begin in the next five to 10 years, this could be brought forward if works on the link road were to occur sooner.