By Colin MacGillivray

WHITTLESEA residents can help create a vision for the town’s next two decades with input on a draft Whittlesea Township Strategy.

The township strategy will serve as an overarching framework guiding decision-making in Whittlesea during the next 20 years.

The long-term vision set out in the strategy will aim to reflect the community’s aspirations and identify growth opportunities.

The City of Whittlesea has released a draft version of the strategy, which Whittlesea residents can provide input on until Friday, December 18.

Council manager of strategic planning and economic development George Saisanas said the draft strategy reflected and responded to previous feedback from Whittlesea township residents.

He said the draft strategy focused on six key areas: a connected community; smart, connected transport; well-designed neighbourhoods; housing for diverse needs; a strong local economy; and a sustainable environment.

“The draft strategy provides a vision for the township which focuses on retention of its rural character whilst supporting the needs of the community: a thriving connected and safe community with well utilised services and facilities; a contained township where growth is appropriately managed; a vibrant town centre and local economy; and a strong connection to the natural environment,” he said.

Community engagement already undertaken as part of the draft strategy indicated the retention of the town’s rural character was high on a list of priorities.

Other items on the community’s wish list were better public spaces, more places for young people, improvements to roads and bike paths, a need for more overnight accommodation options, and a greater variety of specialty shops, dining options and tourism-related opportunities.

City of Whittlesea chair administrator Lydia Wilson said managing growth was a key issue for the Whittlesea community.

The draft strategy examines how projected population growth can be accommodated while protecting the rural character of Whittlesea.

As of 2019 the Whittlesea population was estimated to be 5521. The town is expected to grow to nearly 6900 residents by 2041, an increase of about 25 per cent.

The draft strategy aims to define an urban growth boundary for the town to constrain the expansion of the township.

“To many, Whittlesea’s location connecting urban Melbourne and rural Victoria is ideal,” Ms Wilson said.

“The community values the rural character and has asked for a clear township boundary to protect the landscape and agricultural areas within the green wedge.

“This draft strategy captures both of these important aspects of the community’s vision for their township.”

People can view the draft Whittlesea Township Strategy and provide feedback by visiting www.whittlesea.vic.gov.au/haveyoursay.

Submissions can be made by emailing strategic.planning@whittlesea.vic.gov.au.

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