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Prospecting Geelong Region Integrated Development

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 12, 2013

By Ram Kumar Shrestha

Ram Kumar ShresthaGeelong officially became a city on 8 December 1910, and displaced Ballarat as Victoria’s second largest city by 1936. It is the twelfth largest city in present Australia. The Geelong region attracted over six million tourists during 2001. By 2017 it is claimed that Avalon airport, which is just 15 km (9.3 mi) north-east of the city of Geelong, will carry up to 3.4 million passengers each year. Geelong is surrounded by Warrnambool, Winner of 4 Victorian Tourism Awards in the past 5 years, popular beach-front communities on the Bellarine Peninsula, and famous Great Ocean Road. Growing reputation of Deakin University, existing CSIRO and other research centers and extensive research and consultation prediction would develop Geelong as educational and research center too. The population is predicted to reach five hundred thousand within forty years – that is about two and half times the current figure. Perth and Darwin are the other cities in Australia with such high population increase rate. Geelong Council plans to further develop Geelong as an international waterfront city that boasts first class facilities and caters for a wide range of events and activities. A $1 BILLION plan to give Geelong a convention centre and a world-class waterfront residential precinct has been unveiled by a London-based urban developer with the proposal of a massive rejuvenation of the area between Eastern Beach and Limeburners Point with the capacity to generate an economic benefit of $86 million a year. These details strongly suggest Geelong Council and Victorian government to work out Long Range Strategic Planning (LRSP) for Geelong region development not only to keep everything under control despite overpopulation but also to make it one of the most livable cities in the future.

Strong visions of sustainability and independence, the ‘Sea Dragon’

Strong visions of sustainability and independence, the ‘Sea Dragon’

Sustaining Geelong region’s natural beauty is a big challenge because of the population increase and modernization. Although it’s a difficult task, with proper and long vision plan this could be possible. Individual plans for different areas and objectives could be good in short term, however; long term problems in the region could arise. It could be better to prioritize integrated development of the region through single Grand Geelong Region Master Plan (GGRMP). The region’s formal alliance, G21 Geelong Region Alliance developed ‘The Geelong Region Plan – a sustainable growth strategy’ which was launched by Premier Brumby in 2007. It is the approved strategic plan for the Geelong region and in November 2011, there were 13 Priority Projects. It is therefore, better to work through the already existing alliance and previously developed plans could be part of the GGRMP. To beautify Geelong region in the future, obviously; further designs like “The Sea Dragon” could be necessary.

One of the major challenges in the region will be dreadful crowd in the existing small Geelong city center. This problem can be sidestepped by expanding city center area and introducing high rise buildings. In the same time it could be better to consider Geelong tower to present Geelong identity and prestige. Few high rise buildings are already approved, however; more and more must be planned not just to sort out the problem but also to establish modern Geelong. The Victorian development industry, planning minister Matthew Guy has recently approved the $600m 108-storey apartment and hotel tower in Melbourne’s CBD – the proposed tower, known as Australia 108, will feature 664 apartments and 288 rooms in a six star hotel, and soar 388 meters above ground level, giving it the title of the tallest building in the southern hemisphere. Melbourne’s plan must be considered in the context of the region’s development plan for being Victoria’s second largest city and it could be better to deliberate making the Geelong tower as an icon for modern Geelong with the region’s drive to concentrate high-density development in defined areas and out of existing.

There is greater awareness of the need for sustainable development than a decade ago to meet the needs of the present while safeguarding Earth’s life-support system, on which the welfare of current and future generations depends. As the population in the region increases towards five hundred thousand and with drought already a big problem in Australia, sustainable development must be seen as an economy serving society within the region’s life support system. It would be ideal if GGRMP prioritize sustainable development considerations in the region’s development plan. It could be better to have already planned areas for industry and new residential areas for the future. Triple Gs – Generating Green Geelong (GGG) – concept, therefore, must be prioritized in GGRMP.

Traffic problem will obviously be a big issue in the future. Introducing lots of better alternatives and improvements in traffic engineering is indispensable not only to maintain development standards but also to sustain public safety by controlling accident rates. Introducing roundabouts, flyovers and underpasses could be helpful in this regards. Introducing train service in the region could be helpful not only to minimize traffic problem but also to minimize carbon emission.

Geelong itself is rich with Tourist Centre Locations of interest for visitors; the National Wool Museum, the Old Geelong Gaol, the Botanic Gardens at Eastern Park, and a number of other museums, galleries and historical buildings. The Barwon River meanders through Geelong and its surrounding suburbs, fronted by a number of attractive parks and the scenic Buckley Falls in Fyansford. On its journey to the coast, the river flows through the wetlands of Lake Connewarre before entering Bass Strait at the twin towns of Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove. This is in centre of Melbourne, Warrnambool, Ballarat, Great Ocean Roads etc. The region, hence; needs to be focused to develop as one of the major Tourist Centres in Victoria.

There are so many possibilities that Victorian government and Geelong Council shouldn’t have to worry about the financial burden to complete most of the GGRMP big projects. Some big projects have already been decided, some are under process and it is necessary to think about some new projects. It would be better to bring them together for the integrated development of the region with sustainable development and economic prosperous preserving the rights of our future generations to live safely. By involving private sectors in major big projects it would be possible to provide a major economic stimulus with zero cost to government. It would be better not to put the region’s integrated development concept on the back burner but to nail it to change the region into liveable world class city not only from modern point of view but also from sustainable view point for our future generations.

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