A new analysis of the Draft Lower Hunter Regional Strategy says it falls well short of what is required to maintain the region's prosperity.
Releasing the Property Council's analysis of the Strategy, Hunter Chairperson Bob Hawes said that whilst the commitment to long term planning was commended, more needs to be done.
"A long term strategy is vital to the Lower Hunter's future growth, but it requires leadership by government and a commitment to infrastructure, jobs and a higher population target," he said.
"The foundation of the Strategy must be a plan of action with clear goals, targets and funding, backed up by a commitment by Government to facilitate partnerships between State and Local Government, industry and the community," he said.
"The most disappointing aspect of the Strategy is the absence of a bold vision for the Hunter, building on its unique characteristics, and an infrastructure plan to support growth," Mr Hawes said.
The Property Council's submission to the Draft Lower Hunter Regional Strategy, released publicly today, has identified a number of elements which warrant reconsideration:
- The Strategy lacks a bold and strategic vision, which outlines how the region can continue to grow, and build on current strengths.
- The population and dwelling growth targets set for the region are too low, it signals a "business as usual" growth outlook for the region, and indicates a minimal commitment to investment capital by Government into the future.
- The Strategy needs to adopt sub-regional targets for jobs, population and dwelling growth, and a timetable and implementation plan. This will need to be regularly reviewed.
- The Strategy needs to link to a comprehensive infrastructure investment program, and foster further economic opportunities in the region.
- The Strategy should assess all employment lands and match appropriate uses with future industry and employment growth. Consideration should be given to future sites, on-going servicing, and amalgamation/assembly.
- The threat of levies, if implemented, could ensure the Strategy fails by escalating prices and making new development unaffordable, discouraging investment in the region.
- The Strategy fails to adequately address mine subsidence issues and the impact on growth, and hence the implementation of the Strategy.