The Plan Bendigo project set out the context for Bendigo’s master plan and identified “the bigger picture infrastructure projects”. Greater Bendigo received a total of $230,000 through the Regional Victoria stream of funding in November 2016, comprising $150,000 grant funding and $80,000 Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) resources. Council contributed $150,000 in staff time and $50,000 funding.
This pilot project investigated how collaboration across various state government agencies could be used to identify high priority infrastructure projects with subsequent learnings that could be utilised by other regional cities. A key outcome of the project was the agreed identification of infrastructure priorities. This prioritisation will ensure that infrastructure is delivered in the right locations and at the right time, resulting in cost savings and faster timeframes.
Although the project leveraged 653 residential building approvals in 2016/17 with a value of $381M, it will continue to create additional housing and new jobs. The project investigated Chum Street, a 13ha land parcel, for future housing. The successful delivery of the project will help to create new jobs, particularly the Marong Business Park, “Gov-Hub” and Bendigo Law Courts redevelopment.
On conclusion of this project, Council noted a 50% improvement (skills uplift) in writing strategic documents, with the following key lessons/learnings around engagement and consultation of the
- Target the right stakeholders in the early stages
- Reduce the number of projects consulted on in preliminary stages – 70 was too many
- Better engage with private organisations
- This was a difficult project to communicate, try find a simpler message.
Throughout the project the CoGB in working with the VPA have successfully managed to get a number of agencies around the table on a regular basis to share their position on various projects. This was a first for a regional city. The final list of priority projects has broad agreement from the various agencies involved in the process.
A particular benefit of the VPA’s involvement identified by the council has been its capacity to bring together a range of Victorian Government stakeholders in the process and thereby to increase the potential for achieving better outcomes. The council also considers that the VPA’s involvement has brought forward the project and reduced uncertainty. The council planning staff consider the VPA projects have provided several additional benefits, including council staff and providing training. Moreover, VPA brings access to other skill sets including expertise in land.