THE Planning Institute of Australia has called for a “national conversation” to the future character of Australia’s regional towns and cities as it raises concerns about the influx of government agencies being moved to regional centres.
As the Ballarat CBD gears up for GovHub - due to open in 2020 - which will see 1000 public service positions move to Ballarat, the nation’s leading planning body has warned of the dangers of too much too soon.
The state opposition has also indicated its willingness to see agencies such as VicRoads and V/Line also move to Ballarat should it win government in November.
PIA chief policy officer Rolf Fenner said both state and federal governments needed to acknowledge the wider implications of their policy platforms and investment decisions when promoting regional Australia.
“Our rural and regional communities must be great places to live and work if Australia is to continue to prosper as a nation,” Mr Fenner said.
“The liveability or amenity of a city, town or community is essentially how it feels and looks: the choice, quality and location of buildings, the parks, streetscapes, and the access to shops, schools, and recreational facilities.”
“If we fail to invest in amenity, we will also fail to entice people to live or invest in regional Australia.”
Mr Fenner said there were always costs to the community, many of which were unforeseen when decisions were made.
“The danger is when you put a government agency in a regional city, it’s not planning, it’s just relocating,” he said.
“You bring the jobs down, that’s fine what about partners? family? Are there the jobs there for family? Is there the educational opportunities, is there the technology, the community support services?
“If there’s not, a person will just leave their job and head back to the city
“We need to have a discussion about what role do Australia’s regional cities have, they have so much potential.
“There’s always been a concentration on our capital cities, we can’t afford to do that anymore.”