‘MEGA’ SEY­MOUR IDEA GETS COLD SHOUL­DER

Govt plan­ning its hubs in greater Mel­bourne

Seymour Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - — with John Masanauskas

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

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