Melbourne’s population is tipped to reach eight million by 2051, but it will still be a low density city by world standards, a new report says.
The city’s unprecedented growth shouldn’t be looked at as a hindrance, according to Infrastructure Victoria.
Its discussion paper, Growing Victoria’s Potential, released Tuesday, says Victoria’s record population growth could deliver great outcomes for the state – as long as it is properly planned for.
“Realising this potential will take careful planning and an open conversation about how and where Victoria grows,” CEO Michel Masson said.
“We’ll have a focus on how we make the most of Victoria’s regions, what level of density is right for a growing Melbourne and how we ensure we have the right infrastructure in the right place at the right time.”
Doing all those things will be no mean feat.
In the year to June 2018, Victoria’s population surged by 138,000 to 6.4 million – an increase greater than the population of Ballarat.
By 2051, Victoria is projected to grow to about 10 million people.
Most population growth happens in Melbourne, where the large urban footprint has allowed it to evolve while staying low density.
The report highlights important choices must be made about how the state grows, as Melbourne reaches eight million by 2051 – 3.2 million more people than today.
At the same time, the population of Victoria’s regions would reach 3.7 million in 2051, compared to 1.5 million today.
This means an extra 65,000 people moving to regional Victoria every year, between 2017 and 2051.
Historically, decentralisation policies were made to ease congestion in Melbourne.
However, increased population in regional areas comes with a cost.
It would mean spending more on infrastructure in those areas, the report says.
“This is not to say that promoting growth in regional Victoria isn’t a worthwhile policy goal”.
The report’s authors argue it would be more productive to target investments towards building on a region’s competitive strengths, or reducing local disadvantage, rather than solely on relieving Melbourne’s population pressures.