Bendigo Regional Employment Precinct

Bendigo Regional Employment Precinct

The Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) is working with City of Greater Bendigo to prepare a plan and planning scheme amendment (PSA) and development contributions plan (DPC) to deliver the Bendigo Regional Employment Precinct (BREP). The VPA is the planning authority for the project.

The BREP covers 294ha, immediately south of the Marong township, and provides an opportunity to meet the short to medium term industrial land needs of Greater Bendigo and the broader region. It will unlock zoned land for employment and industrial uses, which responds to the current industrial zone land shortage in Greater Bendigo. It is estimated that BREP will deliver 6,000 direct and indirect jobs for the region.

Wheat fields framed by native trees

The Bendigo Regional Employment Precinct includes land currently used for farming

Background information

The Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) a Victorian Government statutory authority that plans for urban growth across Victoria. We report to the Minister for Planning. 

The VPA’s main task is to make sure Melbourne and Victoria’s regions remain great places to live and work. This requires vision and long-term planning to ensure our growing population has equitable access to employment, public transport, attractive public spaces and affordable housing. 

We do this by working closely with councils, government agencies and the planning and development community on integrated land use and infrastructure coordination for new communities and strategically important precincts. 

The Minister for Planning has appointed the Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) to lead this project from conception to finalisation. Throughout the project, we will work closely with the City of Greater Bendigo (the City), State Government agencies and local community members to ensure the plan considers and reflects their input.

Project information

The City of Greater Bendigo has identified the Bendigo Regional Employment Precinct (BREP) site following a two-year process where it assessed potential sites in line with market needs. This site was selected due to a range of factors as outlined upon the City’s website. Following this, the area was subsequently identified in council’s Marong Township Structure Plan . The boundary that VPA has adopted for BREP was established by council via these processes.

For more information, refer to Bendigo Regional Employment Precinct.

The BREP is identified to become a future employment precinct that is estimated to support 6,000 direct and indirect jobs in the region. Key industries likely to be interested in establishing in the future precinct include advanced manufacturing and logistics.

At the request of City of Greater Bendigo, Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) was appointed as the planning authority by the Minister for Planning on 11 February 2022. A planning authority is any person or body given the power to prepare a planning scheme or an amendment to a planning scheme.

As the planning authority, the VPA will lead the preparation of a plan for Bendigo Regional Employment Precinct (BREP) and the future planning scheme amendment process. As part of this, the VPA will commission and manage preparation of background assessments, technical studies and other consultant work associated with the preparation of a future plan for BREP. Work is commissioned in accordance with the VPA procurement policy and procedures.

Council is a key partner in the preparation of a future plan for Bendigo Regional Employment Precinct (BREP) and the responsible authority for any future development approval in the precinct. A responsible authority is the body responsible for the administration or enforcement of a planning scheme or a provision of a scheme. A responsible authority is responsible for considering and determining planning permit applications and for ensuring compliance with the planning scheme, permit conditions and agreements.

Council is a majority landholder within the precinct, owning 6 titles covering 155ha.

A planning scheme amendment is an essential process for changing the planning rules that apply to an area. The Planning and Environment Act 1987 sets out the steps that must be followed to amend a planning scheme.

A planning scheme governs the way land can be used and developed within the bounds of the Victorian Planning System. A planning scheme is updated from time to time to change the way land can be used or developed or to improve a particular scheme.

First, the Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) (as the planning authority for this work) speaks to landowners and council to develop a vision for the precinct.

Technical reports such as drainage assessments, traffic modelling and heritage reports are prepared to help planners understand the potential limitations of the land.

In consultation with council, the VPA will prepare a draft plan and amendment documentation for the BREP, outlining where land uses might be best located.

The draft plan will form the basis of the proposed planning scheme amendment. This will be shared with government agencies, key service providers and the broader community for input. Anyone interested in the Bendigo Regional Employment Precinct (BREP) is invited to make a submission for review by the VPA.

Unresolved submissions are heard by an independent panel at a Panel Hearing before the plan is finalised and provided to the Minister for Planning for consideration.

Once the planning scheme amendment has been approved by the Minister for Planning and the BREP is incorporated into the City of Greater Bendigo Planning Scheme, landholders can apply for permits to allow development to begin. City of Greater Bendigo will be responsible for administering planning permits.

The entire process is expected to take up to three years.

The Bendigo Regional Employment Precinct (BREP) will provide much-needed industrial land for new and existing businesses looking to expand or relocate to Greater Bendigo.

The need for a new employment precinct is significant as there are currently less than 100 hectares of available serviced industrial land in Greater Bendigo. That means less than 10 years’ land supply is left, which impacts the ability to attract and retain businesses. This new employment precinct is needed to meet Greater Bendigo’s long-term industry needs.

Bendigo Manufacturing Group has been advocating council and Victorian Government for many years now about the need for large, unconstrained parcels of industrial land to facilitate business investment and development in the region.

For context, Bendigo currently has four times less industrial land available than Ballarat and Geelong, which significantly impacts Bendigo’s ability to attract and retain key industrial business, investment and jobs in the region.

A range of technical assessments will need to be done on the land within the precinct to understand the features, opportunities and limitations to be considered to prepare a plan for the future employment precinct.

These will include, but are not limited to:

  • Biodiversity Assessments
  • Aboriginal Cultural Heritage and Historical Heritage Assessments
  • Land Capability Assessment – geology, hydrology and environmental conditions including contamination
  • Utility and Servicing Assessment
  • Transport Impact Assessment
  • Integrated Water Management
  • Amenity and Landscape Assessment
  • Infrastructure Design and Cost Assessment
  • Sustainable Precinct Assessment.

Preparation of a future plan for Bendigo Regional Employment Precinct (BREP) will be jointly funded by Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) and the City of Greater Bendigo.

Major infrastructure items (such as major intersections and drainage assets) required to support the future development of the employment precinct will be identified and funded, where possible, via a development contributions plan (DCP) for the precinct. However, there will be the need for State Government investment in infrastructure that is outside of the DCP’s ability to fund.

Other local infrastructure associated with subdivision and development such as roads, footpaths, street lighting, etc will be funded by the developers of the land.

Development contributions are payments or in-kind works provided by developers towards major new or upgraded infrastructure required to meet the future needs of the developed precinct.

Development contributions plans (DCP) outline the major infrastructure that will be required to support the development of a new precinct, the expected timing, and how it will be delivered.

A DCP is normally incorporated into a planning scheme via a planning scheme amendment. When land within a precinct is developed, the DCP nominates a per-hectare levy that is paid to council or offset against in-kind projects delivered by the developer.

DCPs are based on the principle that development that requires this new infrastructure should pay a fair and reasonable contribution towards its provision. In some cases, the council may be required to contribute to DCP projects due to the project’s relationship or use by existing communities.

Next steps

The Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) is currently undertaking a series of background assessments to identify issues and opportunities that will need to inform future plans for these precincts.

Once these background studies have concluded, the VPA will work with a range of stakeholders to explore different plan options for the future development of these areas.

The VPA is anticipating a draft plan will be released for formal feedback. More details on how to provide feedback will be provided at that time.

The process includes several key touchpoints where landowners can participate in the design process for the Bendigo Regional Employment Precinct (BREP) precinct. The VPA will also endeavour to provide quarterly project updates on progress and key issues under investigation. Individual landowner meetings are available upon request.

The Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) encourages landowner engagement through the development of a vision and purpose for the precinct and at draft plan stage. Engagement activities and timeframes will be outlined in further detail at the upcoming landowner information sessions.

The Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) ensures regular communication with local residents throughout the preparation of the plan.

Information provided to the community stakeholders is important and welcomed by the VPA, as it helps to develop an understanding of the place, and test and refine the proposal for future development in the area.

The preparation of the plan can be complex. The engagement forums, during the setting the vision and plan preparation phases, aim to explain and involve community stakeholders in these discussions about the planning for the precinct.

Supporting Documentation

Bendigo Regional Employment Precinct - Project Charter & Governance Plan - February 2023
Bendigo Regional Employment Precinct - Project Charter & Governance Plan - February 2023 PDF  Version
Bendigo Regional Employment Precinct - Vision & Purpose - Workshop Summary - July 2023
Bendigo Regional Employment Precinct - Vision & Purpose - Workshop Summary - July 2023 PDF  Version
Bendigo Regional Employment Precinct - Pitching Sessions Summary Report - March 2023
Bendigo Regional Employment Precinct - Pitching Sessions Summary Report - March 2023 PDF  Version