‘MEGA’ SEYMOUR IDEA GETS COLD SHOULDER
Govt planning its hubs in greater Melbourne
A bold idea from one of the property industry’s biggest players to develop Seymour as a mega regional hub to take the pressure off Melbourne’s population explosion has been dismissed by the Victorian government.
Charter Keck Cramer chairman Scott Keck proposed the Seymour project as a logical step.
He said its proximity to Melbourne, and its location on the direct route between the Victorian capital and Sydney made it an obvious choice.
Mr Keck said its position would be enhanced with the arrival of a fast-train project linking the two capitals.
However, state Planning Minister Richard Wynne last week said his government had the strategies in place to manage population growth.
Adding they do not include any plans for a mega hub at Seymour.
‘‘Population growth offers great places such as Seymour real opportunities — but we have to get the planning right,’’ Mr Wynne said.
‘‘The best way we grow our regional centres is by investing in the roads, schools, hospitals and jobs that our communities need to thrive — and that’s exactly what we’re doing,’’ he said.
‘‘We’re about investing in communities all over Victoria so families have a choice over where they’ll live — not telling them where they should be based.’’
Mr Keck’s idea has also gained traction with fast-train developer Consolidated Land and Rail Australia.
Its spokesman Mike Day told the Herald Sun Mr Keck’s Seymour proposal was sound in principle.
Mr Day said his organisation’s plan for a fast rail service would depend on creating several ‘smart’ cities along the route.
‘‘We keep saying we need another Canberra every year for the next 40 years to accommodate the population, but no one’s actually nominating where these new cities might be,’’ he said.
‘‘What Scott has come up with (in relation to Seymour) is something really valid that should be investigated.’’
Earlier this month the Herald Sun revealed Mr Keck’s population growth plans but Mr Wynne said a key part of Plan Melbourne was the nurturing of major jobs hubs at places such as Monash and La Trobe universities.
‘‘People in the future, who might live in a growth corridor, won’t have to come into the city for their work,’’ he said.
‘‘They can actually work locally, and that’s really one of the goals of Plan Melbourne.’’
Mitchell Shire Council said it welcomed the enthusiasm for the township as it ‘‘continues to develop into a growing regional hub’’.
Mr Keck said Melbourne was tipped to have at least eight million people by mid-century, and major cities such as Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat would significantly grow.
But with the state’s population likely to reach 11 million, his firm’s number crunchers have concluded that about 1.3 million of that could not be easily absorbed into Melbourne and regional areas.
‘‘My personal thought is that there is an emerging case for a new big city in Victoria, one that if we started thinking about it seriously now, could actually be up and running and very viable in 20 to 25 years’ time,’’ he told the Herald Sun.
Mr Keck, who has been in the property business for 50 years, said Seymour, 117 km from Melbourne, was ideally located for a megacity because it was in the centre of Victoria and would be on the route of a future fast train service to Sydney.
‘‘It would allow Victoria to grow as much as it wanted to without putting pressure on the areas that are already sensitive, and are going to become more sensitive due to population growth.
‘‘The sky’s the limit — it could be 2 million to 3 million people 60 to 70 years down the track.’’
Scott Keck Picture: The Asian Executive
Richard Wynne Planning Minister