Wimmera blueprint for region's future to be released

Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Growth Plan includes high-priority infrastructure projects, such as the possibility of a return of passenger rail into the Wimmera. Picture: THEA PETRASS

Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Growth Plan includes high-priority infrastructure projects, such as the possibility of a return of passenger rail into the Wimmera. Picture: THEA PETRASS

WIMMERA leaders are awaiting feedback from the State Government about a blueprint for the region’s future.

The Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Growth Plan encompasses Horsham, Hindmarsh, Northern Grampians, West Wimmera and Yarriambiack municipalities.

Northern Grampians Shire chief executive Justine Linley, who also co-chairs the project’s steering committee, said Minister for Planning Matthew Guy’s response to the detailed document was eagerly anticipated.

Mr Guy will make an announcement about the plan at Horsham Civic Centre at 2.30pm on Wednesday.

“The Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Growth Plan is a project we have been working on for a little over two years,” Mrs Linley said.

“In fact, we signed off on it more than 12 months ago and submitted it to the minister, so we’re grateful that it is finally coming to this point.

“Hopefully he will be as excited about the plan and the opportunities contained in it as we are.”

She said the Wimmera and southern Mallee was one of the first regions to put its growth plan forward.

The Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure received seven other regional growth plans, including Central Highlands, Loddon Mallee North and Loddon Mallee South.

“It came out of an idea that was put forward through the Regional Strategic Plan, which all councils signed off on in 2010,” Mrs Linley said.

She said preliminary work identified high-priority infrastructure projects.

“There has been some discussion about the importance of trying to return passenger rail into the Wimmera,” Mrs Linley said.

Duplicating the Western Highway to the South Australian border was also highlighted as an important project.

Other recommendations include improving telecommunication black spots and boosting tourism potential throughout the region.

“We have incredible potential,” Mrs Linley said.

The Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Growth Plan’s scope ranges from rural land use to energy.

“It talks about our population change and growth, the nature of our towns and how different towns serve different purposes,” Mrs Linley said.

“The plan isn’t all about Horsham, it’s actually about developing our small communities and providing connections and links between each of those communities.

“We know the region has a population of about 50,000 people all up, and we would like to be able to see that grow quite substantially in the next 10 to 20 years.”

She said the document’s contents would influence each of the five councils’ planning schemes.

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