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The City of Ballarat is located in western Victoria, about 100 kilometres west of Melbourne. The City is dominated by the regional centre of Ballarat, the third largest town in Victoria, and it is surrounded to the north, west and south by rural areas and small townships. As a regional centre, Ballarat contains a variety of land uses, encompassing established residential areas, newly developing greenfield areas, significant retail, health and educational institutions, and manufacturing industries.
Gold was discovered in Ballarat in 1851, and the resulting mass in-migration lead to rapid urban development. The wealth generated from that period is still visible in the central part of the City today, with a number of historic streets and homes forming part of the urban fabric. Over the years Ballarat’s steady growth saw the town expand outwards from the central grid, creating new suburbs but also engulfing what were originally outlying towns, such as Sebastopol and Buninyong. In the post war period, growth was concentrated in the west of the City with new suburbs created at Wendouree, Delacombe and Alfredton. Over the years Ballarat has grown steadily with peaks and troughs mirroring economic conditions and the state of the labour market. The population reached 50,000 during the 1950s, and in 1991 the population of the City was 79,100, and had reached 95,200 by 2011.
As a regional centre, Ballarat’s service catchment extends beyond its City borders and encompasses major retail, health and education facilities. Traditionally, people from surrounding rural areas, particularly to the west, have been attracted to Ballarat for employment and education purposes. Ballarat also attracts many people from the Melbourne metropolitan area, including families seeking more affordable housing with good access to employment opportunities. This role is still important, but in more recent years Ballarat has also gained population in retiree age groups (55-69 years). In addition, there has been a slow down in the rate of youth out-migration such that Ballarat now gains more young adults than it loses.
Note: The migration flows depicted above are historical and do not represent future or forecast migration flows or subsequent council boundary changes. The arrows represent migration flows to the area as a whole and do not indicate an origin or destination for any specific localities within the area. Overseas flow shows overseas arrivals based on answers to the census question "where did the person usually live 5-years ago" and .id estimates of international out-migration.
The City has a diverse housing market, reflecting the long history of residential development over several decades, and the wide range of land uses. Young families are attracted to newly developing suburbs on the fringe as they offer more suitable housing stock and are generally more affordable. This type of housing market is found in Alfredton, but as residential development inreases in the Ballarat West Growth Area, suburbs such as Cardigan-Lucas-Bunkers Hill, Delacombe and Bonshaw-Smythes Creek will also assume this role. Young adults are attracted to established suburbs where there is affordable rental accommodation, especially if it is accessible to the university and TAFE campuses eg parts of Sebastopol and Golden Point. Other parts of the City have high amenity and historic values, and are more attractive to second and third home buyers. Lake Wendouree, Mount Helen and Buninyong are examples of this type of housing market. The suburb of Wendouree is unique in the City due to the high proportion of social housing, much of which is undergoing redevelopment due to the age and quality of the housing stock.
Ballarat’s role as a major regional centre and the extent of its service catchment will influence population growth and change into the future. The majority of Ballarat’s growth will be concentrated in newly developing areas to the west of the city (Ballarat West Growth Area) in Alfredton, Cardigan-Lucas-Bunkers Hill, Delacombe, Sebastopol-Redan and Bonshaw-Smythes Creek. As indicated above, much of the housing here will be attractive not only to young families from other parts of Ballarat, but also from surrounding townships and the Melbourne metropolitan area. There are some growth pockets in the Mount Helen corridor which are more attractive to second and third home buyers. Growth from infill development is less important and is constrained in some areas by heritage overlays and remnant mining tailings. Nevertheless, it will add to the dwelling stock in areas such as Ballarat East-Eureka-Warrenheip, Golden Point-Mount Pleasant-Canadian, Ballarat Central-Bakery Hill-Lake Wendouree (South)-Newington, and the older parts of Sebastopol where there are larger lots or older stock more suitable for redevelopment.
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