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Investment needed amid population growth in northern suburbs

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Key precincts for employment and linking to health and education facilities are key elements of Northern Councils Alliance’s Strategic Plan 2022-2026 launched last week.

The alliance’s five-year blueprint for regional advocacy incudes four strategic priority areas and an accompanying document, Advocacy Priorities 2022-2023.

The strategic plans was developed by the municipalities of Whittlesea, Mitchell, Banyule, Darebin, Hume, Merri-bek, and Nillumbik in conjunction with regional partners.

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Melbourne’s north is home to one million people, 20 per cent of the population of Greater Melbourne.

It’s one of the fastest growing regions, with a population of 1.5 million forecast by 2036 – a growth rate of 2.8 per cent, compared to 1.6 per cent for Greater Melbourne.

One in six Victorians live in the northern Melbourne region.

Northern Councils Alliance chair, and Banyule councillor, Elizabeth Nealy said the population growth needed to be matched with the necessary investment in infrastructure and strategic projects that would improve access to jobs, health services and education.

Cr Nealy said the next step was to advocate to federal and state governments for support and funding to achieve the plan’s goals.

“Melbourne’s north is the engine room of Victoria’s economy, but it needs significant and strategic investment if it is to reach its full potential,” she said.

“Investment in our region was urgently needed before COVID-19 … and it’s even more critical today.”

Cr Nealy said investment in strategic priorities was essential for transport connectivity, precinct development, business and employment growth, access to education and health services, future proofing the economic and social development of Melbourne’s north, and ensuring equality and liveability for the community.

The projects identified in the documents will form the basis of the alliance’s regional advocacy efforts over the next 12 months.

City of Whittlesea chair administrator Lydia Wilson said for Victoria to succeed, Melbourne’s north needed to succeed.

“Targeted investment in the north will be critical to the economic response to, and recovery from, COVID-19 – not just for our region, but for the state, and for the country,” she said.

“Development of our key precincts as employment, industry and activity locations, linking to health and education facilities, will be essential in terms of future regional development.

“Efficient connectivity will be key to their success and there should be a focus on sustainability.”

Ms Wilson said electric vehicles were also important to help communities transition to lower carbon lifestyles.

“We are currently undertaking a regional, community-wide electric vehicle transition plan and we require government support for its implementation,” she said.

To read the Strategic Plan 2022-2026 and Advocacy Priorities 2022-2023, visit www.northerncouncils.org.au.

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