Archive:   Growth Rates

Last Updated  14/2/09





See also Feature:  Urban Conversion 2005

See also Growth Agenda




Latest DPCD Growth Figures Say Macedon Ranges' Growth Has Slowed Yet Again In 2007

(10/8/08 - P)   Pulls the 'justified' rug even further from under the Braemar Estate 1,000 lots

Just released figures from the Department of Planning and Community Development [DPCD] point to the growth rate in Macedon ranges falling yet again since the 2006 census.  The 2006 census data shows Macedon Ranges Shire had an annual average growth rate of 1.2% during the five years from 2001. 


DPCD's latest 2008 Victorian Population Bulletin puts the growth rate in Macedon Ranges between 2006 and 2007 at 0.9%.  Yarra Ranges - a similarly sensitive area as Macedon Ranges - grew by only 0.4% in 2006/2007.


Of the Shires surrounding Macedon Ranges, Moorabool grew by 1.5%, Melton (metro area) 5.8%, Hume (metro area) 2.2%, Mitchell 2.2%, Mt. Alexander 1.1%, and Hepburn 0.4%.


Regional Victoria grew by just over 15,000 people, or 1.1%, while the Melbourne metropolitan area grew by just under 62,000, or 1.6%.


The fastest growing municipalities in regional Victoria (2006/2007) were: Surf Coast (3.2%) and Mitchell (2.0%), Bass Coast (2.0%), Warrnambool (1.7%), Golden Plains (1.6%) and Greater Bendigo (1.6%).   Greater Geelong, Greater Bendigo, Ballarat, Latrobe and Mildura had the highest growth in numbers of people. 


Fastest growing municipalities in metro Melbourne were Wyndham (6.2%), Melton (5.8%), Melbourne (City) (5.8%), Cardinia (3.7%) and Casey (3.1%).  


You can obtain a copy of the 2008 Victorian Population bulletin by going to


Latest DSE Population Bulletin Suggests Rate of Growth Is Dropping In Macedon Ranges, But Still They Come...

(13/6/07 - P)  Only another 786 estimated people in 2005/2006 (+1.9%), a drop from the 918 estimated extra people DSE said we had in 2004/2005 (+2.3%)

That's not all the latest (2007) Bulletin said.  "Melbourne's growth rate for the year ending June 2006 was the largest in Australia, followed by Sydney..."   And, "Regional Victoria's growth rate (1.4% or 19,557 people) surpassed Melbourne's (1.3% or 48,945 people).  Regional Victoria has not had consecutive years of growth faster than Melbourne since before 1986/1987." 

Click here to see the Bulletin. Note: DSE figures are estimates which will be confirmed or otherwise by the 2006 census data. 

Click here to see population statistics for Macedon Ranges over recent years. 

Click here and Here to see how Australia's population looks set to climb past 21 million (after reaching 20 million in December, 2003), with the second highest birth rate on record.


MRRA Says:


Hello?  Aren't we living with water shortages, drought, substantial infrastructure difficulties, potential power uncertainties, social uneasiness and climate change?  Arguably, the single most important issue - if we are to get it right and give ourselves and our environment a real future - is taking a realistic look at GROWTH: population growth, and the archaic eighteenth-century principles of more and more growth by which we drive and supposedly measure economic "health". 


These latest DSE estimates point to rates and levels of population growth - which Victoria may not be able to sustain - as if this is a 'win'.  In the current climate change context, shouldn't these be seen as shameful results?


It seems our Premier, Steve Bracks, has got his illogical wish for Melbourne to be the growth centre of Australia, despite Melbourne being in one of the smallest States, and not being able to give a rock-solid guarantee for water supply to the people and development that are already here.  


On that note, while we hear so very, very much about Melbourne's water supplies, and protecting Melbourne's (already protected) drinking water catchments, pretty much nothing is said about protecting drinking water catchments - and limiting growth accordingly - in rural and regional areas.  Not much is done about securing rural water supplies either - until the water runs out.  The solution?  Pinch Peter's water and give it to Paul.


Do you know that drinking water catchments in rural areas (which also often supply water to regional towns and cities) aren't publicly-owned land (as most of Melbourne's catchments are), and aren't specifically protected under the Victorian planning system?   That since the loss of tenement controls (concurrent with the demise of "old" planning schemes) which restricted houses and development in rural zones, there is galloping ad hoc 'tree-change' residential development in these rural drinking water catchments - and excruciating pressure for more? 


MRRA has been harping on about protecting rural drinking water catchments for eons, and finds it is mostly like talking to a brick wall.  It's not even State policy (State Planning Policy Framework, Clause 15) to protect drinking water catchments.  And did you know that the State government recently removed the legislative basis for Land Use Determinations, which set out how land can be used without damaging catchment values in drinking water catchments?   We have to ask: is anyone listening, does anyone care?


2006 First Release ABS Census Data For Macedon Ranges

(7/8/07 - SP)  MRRA Overview

It's clear that more ABS information is needed to fill in the gaps, but as a "first cut" MRRA's overview gives a brief snapshot of what's happening in Macedon Ranges.  Click here for the overview.


Latest Census Data A Shock For Macedon Ranges

(12/7/07 - P)  ABS First Release census figures say DSE got it all wrong: Macedon Ranges has had 1% p.a. growth, not the 2% plus DSE said we had.  The shocks don't stop there - on preliminary figures, from 2001 to 2006 Gisborne and Woodend not only had no new units - they lost 4!

Crickey!!! just about sums up the surprises the 2006 census data had in store for Macedon Ranges. Instead of the 41,500 plus people DSE said just last May were here at June 2006, the Shire's population was in fact only 38,360 on census night in 2006 (ABS Place of Usual Residence data)


On that basis, it seems we grew by 2,105 people in 5 years (DSE said 4,203), with an overall growth rate of 5.8% for the five years (DSE said 10.7%), and an average annual growth rate of 1.16%.  DSE estimates had Macedon Ranges' growth rate as high as 2.8% per annum in 2003/2004, with an average annual growth rate of 2.14% in each of the five years.  Mega difference!


MRRA Says:


We are currently working on an overview of census results and will have a fuller report shortly. 


These are important statistics that need careful interpretation.  For example, it seems that instead of alarm bells ringing because the census results point to no new units in Gisborne and Woodend in the past 5 years (when we all know that's just not true), we hear Council now thinks there needs to be a massive increase in units in Gisborne to compensate!  Well, derrr...  Has it occurred to anyone that the skewed numbers may be the result of people saying in the census that they lived in "separate houses" instead of "units"?  That scenario wouldn't stretch the imagination too much given the "units" Council so happily approves are often in reality huge 2 storey houses (albeit jammed in check-by-jowl), and more often than not, once the units are approved, Council then approves subdivision of the land, which gives each "unit" a separate lot and a separate title.  What type of dwelling would you say you lived in, under those circumstances?   If going hell-for-leather on approving MORE units is the best response Council can come up with, it obviously isn't really analyzing or understanding the census results.  God save us from such obtuseness.


Courtesy Of The Bracks Government, Macedon Ranges Is Becoming So Suburban Even Real Estate Agents Are Complaining!

(14/11/06 - P)  With no change of mind in sight from the Bracks government to stop suburbia - we'll either have to get used to it... or get rid of the government that's causing it

Here’s what one estate agent thinks about what’s being done to Gisborne (The Age 4/11/06):


Mr FitzGerald says owners and developers need to respect the rural charm of places like Trentham, and cites nearby Gisborne as an example of what not to do. "Gisborne is turning into an outer suburb of Melbourne and when you look at the houses, they are typical suburban brick-veneers. They just don't sell here; people just drive past."


This adds to another recent story where a local real estate agent referred to Gisborne as one of Melbourne's fastest growing suburbs (see below).


Gisborne Already A Suburb Of Melbourne

(21/10/06 - SP)  And thanks to the Bracks government's failure to protect Macedon Ranges as it promised, one of the "fastest-growing' suburbs at that.

Locals might want to check out page 42 of the last week's Telegraph newspaper.  In an advertisement for the large and controversial "Mulbarton" subdivision, the estate agents Raine and Horne had this to say about Gisborne:


Mulbarton promises... a great investment opportunity in one of Melbourne's fastest-growing suburbs"


It's Official:  VCAT Says Romsey  Gets Metro Area's Development Spillover - Make That Macedon Ranges Too

(31/7/06 - SP)  Most of us have known for some time that metropolitan development is leapfrogging over Green Wedges into Macedon Ranges, and now, at last, it's in writing - and because the State government refuses to stop it, it looks set to continue, if this decision is anything to go by.

VCAT dealt Romsey objectors - and Macedon Ranges - a poor hand in a decision by A J Quirk on 26 July 2006.  VCAT overturned Council's refusal to subdivide an acre allotment (with an existing house) into 4 quarter acre lots in a neighbourhood where all lots are one acre (4000 sq m).   Understandably, current residents want the relaxed, rural character that acre lots produce preserved.  VCAT has basically said sorry, it's zoned for higher density development.  The land is zoned Residential 1 in the current planning scheme and there isn't an alternative State residential zone available that would stop on-going subdivision into smaller lots.  VCAT said:

"It... could not be said that this is a low density residential area.  Under present VPP provisions, a low density residential area is one that is generally not provided with sewerage and has a particular designation as a zone under the planning scheme.  This land is clearly zoned Residential 1 and therefore is capable of supporting all the development criteria and policy provisions that a Residential 1 zone allows."

In his decision, Mr. Quirk also recognized there is no (current) way of stopping the invasion of metro development into our rural towns.

"The ever expanding metropolitan area, which has been at last contained by an urban growth boundary, means that any overspill must occur in towns that virtually become transit towns. Romsey appears to be one of them. This is not going to go away..."    Click here to see the full decision.

MRRA Says:

This damaging, urban-density development, which is ruining the rural ambience, appearance and character of our towns, could be controlled if the State government lived up to its promises and provided the means to do it.  The government instead says Macedon Ranges is already protected... 




New Govt. Survey On 'Empty Nester' Housing Preferences: Most Don't Want A Sea/Tree Change!

(27/7/06 - P)  The Department of Sustainability and Environment's (DSE) Urban and Regional Research Unit has just released results of a survey of 'empty nesters' and it seems, even if the kids have 'flown', they aren't yearning for those jammed-in, double-storey units and retirement villages developers keep proposing, and Council and VCAT keep approving, in Macedon Ranges.

Here's an overview of the report's main thrust, as included in the Department's 'Research Matters' newsletter:

"The reality is that they now have a house with no kids.  The question is - are they ready to move on?  To down-size?  The answer, at this stage, is no.  There are many empty nesters who have decided to remain in the family home.  The reasons essentially revolve around emotional attachment, security and finances.


Some are happy to sell up, but invariably want to stay in the same area unless there are compelling reasons to move to another area.  Most can visualise their ideal new home and there is a strong consensus on the key features of their new home. It will be as maintenance free as possible, will be modern, on one level, with a small rear garden, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a main open-plan living area plus a second smaller living area and good security.  For most, an apartment is not in the consideration set, nor is a retirement village.  A 'sea-change' is not on the list for many..."

You can access the full report on the DSE website (, research, urban and regional, demographics, or click to go directly to the report.


MRRA Says:

It will be interesting to see whether these findings penetrate into the minds of decision-makers, or whether they simply cling to current thinking (e.g. can't get enough places for old people and tree changers, we are going to be inundated with them; all older people want small, two-storey units, etc.).  The result of that thinking is often quantity not quality; not providing what people really want/need, and increasingly suburban outcomes as what worked in Melbourne is transferred to Macedon Ranges.   Hmmm, it's a scenario that closely parallels proposals that have been fast-tracked through the approvals process in the guise of creating jobs; fast-tracked to the point where standards, policy and process go out the window, and much of the time, all Macedon Ranges ends up with is another sub-standard, inappropriate development, and often, not many local jobs.  


This latest 'nester' information is relevant (dare we say, at least as relevant as any real estate agents saying give us more, more, more), and should influence how Council and Macedon Ranges' residents look at future housing needs.


Latest Council Growth Projections Show What Will Happen If We 'Do Nothing'  See also Council Draft Housing Strategy 2007

(15/5/06 - SP)   What are our options for taking this much growth?

This is good work, and great detail, from Council's in-house unit which has prepared figures with local elements included.  But we still don't have the answer to 'how much growth can Macedon Ranges take without losing things that are of value to us?'


MRRA Says:

Council’s population projections for 2031 confirm the Department of Sustainability and Environment's Victoria In Future figures, produced in late 2004 (see MRRA's Urban Conversion Feature).  Both Council's and DSE's projections are based on past and present (feeding frenzy?) development trends , and were produced without any policy influences – these figures are are what will happen if we do nothing.  It is a frightening future.  Where do we put all these people without losing fundamental values? 


"How much growth?" is the fundamental question in Macedon Ranges.  Yes, we can take some, but what are our choices in taking this many:  we can continue to push growth into rural areas; expand our towns out into rural areas; or go with suburban-style development jammed in the towns - or all of the above, which is almost what's happening now.  It is a demand-driven growth scenario, where growth drives planning and policy, rather than the other way around, and if it eventuates, Macedon Ranges stands to lose a great deal - some would say it's soul. 


A key step is recognising the constraints and limitations that exist, and cutting our cloth accordingly by producing policy that defines the level of growth that can be accommodated without turning our towns into suburbs and our rural land into low density residential.  Macedon Ranges will find it hard to do this on its own.  Which pretty much brings us back full circle to the need for State protection, doesn’t it?   The protection the State government refuses to give us.


Macedon Ranges’ Growth Rate Soars – Confirms Development Is Out Of Control   See also Urban Conversion

(9/5/05 – SP) And the State government won’t do anything to stop it.


WE ALL KNOW IT’S HAPPENING AND WE’VE FINALLY GOT IT IN WRITING!  The Department of Sustainability and Environment (Research Unit) has just issued the 2005 Victorian Population Bulletin.  The Bulletin confirms everything residents have been saying about growth and development being ‘off the planet’ in Macedon Ranges.  From June 2003 to June 2004, Macedon Ranges had an annual growth rate of 2.8%, up a full percentage point from 1.8% in 2003/2004, with an estimated population of 40,004 people at June 2004.


This makes Macedon Ranges the fifth fastest growing (%) municipality in regional Victoria, and the fourth highest in terms of additional people.  In terms of population growth, only the Cities of Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat had a higher number of additional people than Macedon Ranges, followed by the Rural City of Wodonga.   Our poor RURAL SHIRE is now out-stripping growth in rural cities.  Suburbia, here we come!


So the next time anyone (including the Department of Sustainability and Environment and the Minister for Planning) says there’s nothing wrong in Macedon Ranges, show them these figures.  This is one of the reasons why we’ve asked the State government for help – this level of growth is NOT sustainable in a place as sensitive as Macedon Ranges.


NOTE:  This 2.8% growth rate doesn’t yet include new residents moving into the almost 850 new lots we know were created between April and October 2004.  For a comparison of recent growth rates, click here.  For more information on the Bulletin, contact DSE’s research unit by email on or visit the DSE website on and go to research.