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As a vibrant and dynamic region of NSW, on the cusp of one of the fastest growing economic area in the nation, the Far North Coast is well placed to continue to grow and develop as a prosperous region. But it needs leadership from Government and a plan of action. At the centrepiece of this Regional Strategy must be a detailed plan for the future and a commitment by Government to facilitate partnerships between State and local governments, industry and the community.
The Property Council welcomes this Draft Far North Coast Regional Strategy. The Government is commended for committing to strategic land use planning which enables the region to effectively manage future growth.
However, there are a number of key elements of this Strategy which warrant reconsideration. They are:
The Strategy lacks a bold, strategic and detailed vision, which outlines how the region can continue to grow, and build on current strengths. The Strategy needs to link to a comprehensive infrastructure investment plan, and foster further economic opportunities in the region.
The decision to impose levies on development to fund infrastructure could ensure the Strategy fails by escalating prices and making new development unaffordable, thus discouraging investment and growth. Alternative funding mechanisms for infrastructure need to be adopted.
Not only is the industry expected to fund future infrastructure needs, but also ‘backlog’ infrastructure. This is completely unacceptable to industry and it poses the most significant risk for the Strategy. It will not succeed if the funding of infrastructure falls unduly on the property industry. This commitment needs to be reversed.
The Strategy fails to maximise benefits arising from the rapid growth in South East Queensland. There is no clear commitment to identify and exploit natural synergies which could be realised between the two regions so that they can grow and prosper together.
Directing future housing growth away from the coast where economic growth has been limited may reduce demand for housing. These targets need to be reviewed.
More consideration needs to be given to seniors living and aged care, implementing an affordable housing strategy and design standards.
It is essential that a detailed jobs and industry plan accompany the final Regional Strategy and that it include sub-regional targets for employment. Consideration should be given to business development incentives, ongoing servicing, and amalgamation and assembly of sites.
The Regional Conservation Plan and proposals for BioBanking should be immediately released for consultation and trials.
Government should engage residents, business and stakeholders in regular monitoring, reviewing and revising the Strategy.