Ballarat City Council asks residents the Game Changer questions

EVERYTHING is on the table as the City Council asks residents what Ballarat should look like in 2040.

The Ballarat council will ask a series of questions about how the city and its surrounds should move forward in the face of inevitable population growth.

The 10 “game changing” questions will ask whether Ballarat should spread out, or become denser; whether new facilities and buildings are more important than heritage; and whether Ballarat’s future is as a satellite city to Melbourne with better transport options to and from the state capital, or as an independent stand-alone regional centre with its own infrastructure.

Results will dictate the council’s priorities in terms of planning regulations, funding, and development as part of a strategy plan towards 2040.

Natalie Reiter, who was appointed general manager city strategy seven months ago, said during that time the council had collected about 7000 “ideas” from Ballarat residents on how the city should move forward and was now consulting the wider community about what most people wanted. 

“We are doing the consultation over the next few months. We won’t be hard and fast on cutting off that consultation period, although we would be looking at July so we have the rest of the year to work on the strategy plan,” Ms Reiter said. 

“The council went out and got a whole lot of feedback from the community. It was done via a vast range of communication tools but the one that had the greatest success was a ‘postcard’ left all around town.

“People could write on the postcard with what they wanted and the postcards were then gathered up.”

Five potential models for Ballarat’s future were developed. 

The “current” path has an emphasis on protecting farmland and heritage areas by establishing growth areas, but at the expense of giving landowners freedom to develop or reinvigorating the central business district.

The “free market” approach emphasises freedom and allowing residents to have large houses and blocks, with a lower priority on protecting existing suburbs and providing better community facilities. 

The “suburban choices” vision features strong growth in new estates and suburbs, while leaving the older parts of Ballarat largely untouched.

The “consolidation and transit corridors” approach would see higher density development in established areas while improving transportation corridors, potentially at the expense of heritage and character.

Then there is a “satellite townships” vision, where residents and developers are encouraged to expand in surrounding towns such as Buninyong and Learmonth, instead of Ballarat itself. 

gavin.mcgrath@fairfaxmedia.com.au

BALLARAT’S “GAME CHANGERS”

Question 1: With growth inevitable, how can we achieve the community’s vision for the city in parallel with growth?

Question 2: What should the Ballarat Strategy include so that as Ballarat grows we: enhance our beautiful city? enhance our lifestyle? keep our sense of community?

Question 3: What kind of city should Ballarat be in 2040 – and what does the Ballarat Strategy need to do to achieve this?

Question 4: Where and how will we live in 2040?

Question 5: What kind of relationship should Ballarat have with Melbourne? How should the Ballarat Strategy help to achieve that?

Question 6: What does the surrounding region need from Ballarat – and what actions are required to make it happen?

Question 7: What can Ballarat contribute to Victoria, Australia and the world – and what actions should the Ballarat Strategy include to help this happen?

Question 8: What are the key forces of change and resource constraints Ballarat is likely to face?

Question 9: How can Ballarat be more open and resilient to change and best capture the opportunities change can bring?

Question 10: What is your Game Changer?

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