The development manager of a major mixed-use housing project in London says Ballarat has the right ingredients to be an attractive alternative to suburban Melbourne.
Greenwich Square development manager Joseph van Dyk said the construction of a VicRoads headquarters next to the Civic Hall was an opportunity to create a mixed-use development in the heart of the city.
The former Horsham resident, who plans to move to Ballarat later this year, said the Greenwich Square site was previously a large hospital that was controversially demolished before sitting vacant for 10 years.
He said the site now featured 645 apartments, duplex units and townhouses and a National Health Service facility, along with a council-operated leisure centre and library, offices, retail spaces and restaurants.
“Mixed-use development is key to sustainable living,” Mr van Dyk said.
“London is embracing this at the moment due to huge amounts of traffic congestion, and a site such as this with government support is a perfect opportunity.”
Mr van Dyk said he believed Ballarat already played a role in absorbing part of Victoria’s growth but needed to be prepared for a further increase in population.
He described the retention of creative young people in Ballarat and regional Victoria as “critical to its future over the coming decades”, adding that this would come with a requirement to provide the services many city professionals had grown accustomed to.
He said Ballarat had public transport infrastructure, huge tracts of open space, universities and proximity to airports.
“This amount of infrastructure within an hour’s drive of a major city is incredible,” he said.
“If Ballarat’s growth focused on the existing infrastructure and amenity it could harness many more opportunities such as the VicRoads relocation.”