Regional plan can push the envelope
THE many plans, strategies, white papers, policies and initiatives relating to North Queensland have been criticised in recent times.
A draft State Government Regional Plan will also soon join this crowded policy landscape, aiming to provide a guide for growth in the Townsville, Burdekin, Charters Towers, Hinchinbrook and Palm Island local government areas.
Despite the risk of plan fatigue, the North Queensland Regional Plan has the potential to provide a longer- term perspective than the other glossy documents.
If done right, regional plans can help convert the community’s vision of its future into a reality.
In southeast Queensland, where a statutory regional plan has been in place since 2005, the experience has been disappointing. Too often local governments have ignored the established regional blueprint, to the detriment of affordability and liveability.
The local property industry wants to see the State Government apply the lessons learnt from the 2005 southeast to ensure the impending North Queensland plan manages to hit the mark.
The Property Council has called on the State Government to ensure its North Queensland Regional Plan takes a long- term view.
By providing a 25- year strategic planning framework and a 50- year vision, the Government can establish clear goals well beyond election cycles to ensure the decisions of today remain in the region’s long- term interests.
Priorities for the North should include a land use pattern that encourages a diverse economy and positions the region to compete as a global leader in the tropical zone.
There is no need for the State Government to reinvent the wheel and it will be vital that the new plan complements existing planning documents, including the Townsville City Plan and Townsville City Deal.
The Townsville City Plan is already accepted by the property industry and the community as providing a clear direction for how Townsville should grow in the short to medium term.
For this reason, it is important that the new plan does not add an additional level of complexity and red tape to the existing planning framework.
Similarly, the City Deal provides a framework to deliver the infrastructure required to accommodate growth, and is accompanied by an overarching economic strategy supported by all levels of government.
If Townsville can drive economic growth through a streamlined planning system accompanied by the necessary infrastructure and a co- ordinated investment strategy, North Queensland will prosper.
Above all, what the property industry wants to see is a regional plan that can become a reality, by being implemented at a local level.
The North Queensland Regional Plan needs to be more than just another plan.