‘Big plans’ for Tweed as town becomes ‘city’
THE State Government's newly announced strategy for the North Coast and Tweed - its fastest growing 'regional city' - has been slammed for failing to mention the Tweed Hospital and Gold Coast Airport.
The North Coast Draft Regional Plan promising jobs, a city hub at the Tweed CBD, and environmental protection, was launched at Cabarita Headland on Wednesday by NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes.
Mr Stokes said it was "strategically the most significant planning guide" ever released, recognising the North Coast's predicted growth by 97,000 people over the next 20 years.
Lismore was overlooked, as Tweed was declared a 'regional city' alongside Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour.
The State Government acknowledged the Tweed would enjoy the fastest growth of the three cities, with more than 90% of that growth expected to be in the over-65 age group, but it did not include any strategy for the Tweed Hospital's redevelopment in the plan.
Valued at $211 million in 2013, the redevelopment is expected to only receive $48m in June.
Tweed MP Geoff Provest conceded while at a Medical Staff Council meeting at Tweed Hospital yesterday that only "basic" consultations had taken place before the glossy 100-page publication and online portal was released.
Mr Provest said he would make submissions for the draft document to be altered.
"It's my desire to push forward and I've been told that we'll now have extra funding opportunities for the Tweed Hospital," he said.
"Our health services have to mirror the growth."
Tweed Hospital Medical Staff Council chairman Dr Mike Lindley-Jones said the hospital's doctors would make a submission on the draft.
"It really didn't mention the health services in this area despite the fact we need massive infrastructure," he said.
"Coffs Harbour Hospital was promised $156 million on the same day that Tweed was only promised $48 million (in March 2015)."
Mr Provest said he was concerned about the transport strategy. "There's no mention of the Gold Coast Airport and yet it's a major driver in bringing in $100m (in tourism value a year)," he said.
Shadow MP for the North Coast Walt Secord has slammed the regional city title as a token label.
"The real challenge will be how the Liberals and Nationals will fund the need for proper health and hospital services on the North Coast, especially for those over 65," he said.
There was also no mention of the new Tweed Heads Police Station, nor plans to improve court facilities at Tweed Heads or Murwillumbah.
A Department of Planning spokesperson said they would work with Tweed council on more detailed planning.
"Government agencies will be involved in determining where new hospitals and courthouses will be located or which current hospitals and courthouses are revitalised."
Submissions are open until June 2 at planning. nsw.gov.au/northcoast