Re­gional plan can push the en­ve­lope

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

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.

SET­TLING IN: Rugs A Mil­lion store man­ager Brett Coster at the new Hyde Park Cen­tre store. Pic­ture: FIONA HARDING

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