Predictions of population pain

By Star Weekly

By Craig Butt/The Age

As of 2016, Rockbank and Mount Cottrell were home to about 3000 people.

Over the next two decades, the population there is set to explode – a twentyfold increase, based on state government projections.

By 2036, the area is expected to be home to about 65,000 people, equivalent to the current population of Shepparton.

Rockbank/Mount Cottrell is one of 29 suburbs statewide the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning predicts will more than double in size between 2016 and 2036.

The growth projections have sparked major concerns by planning experts on whether the areas have infrastructure needed to cope with the population boom.

Many of the areas expected to experience the greatest population growth are on Melbourne’s expanding suburban fringes.

In the west, Melton South, Tarneit, Werribee West, Werribee South, Wyndham Vale and Point Cook South are projected to double in size, along with Hillside, in the city’s north-west.

The department’s principal demographer, David Sykes, said the projections were calculated using mathematical models, expert knowledge and trend analysis to provide an estimate of the future size, distribution and composition of the population.

RMIT professor of urban policy Jago Dodson said there were some serious deficits in how growth suburbs were planned, particularly in regards to access to public transport, access to high-skilled jobs and a lack of cultural facilities.

“We need a more holistic sense of how these places are planned, rather than seeing them as dormitory suburbs where people commute out every day,” he said.

Professor Dodson said it was vital for more public debate to take place on Melbourne’s population growth.

“There is a need for a much more systematic public conversation about how we want Melbourne to be in about 20-30 years with this additional population … re-shaping the city in a more sustainable and more inclusive way, while managing some of the disadvantages high population levels could bring,” he said.