The city of Tweed is declared
THE RAIN may have poured down on the announcement of the Tweed's new status as a regional city but there was no dampening the mood as the region was officially recognised as the fastest growing in NSW outside of Sydney.
NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes announced the Tweed's new status at Cabarita Headland today, while releasing the Draft North Coast Regional Plan to map the major developments expected in the region over the next two decades.
Mr Stokes told those at the launch, including Tweed councillors, planning staff, local MPs Geoff Provest and Thomas George, MLC Ben Franklin and North Coast parliamentary secretary Chris Gulaptis, the plan was "strategically the most significant planning guide" ever released for the region.
"(This) is the first time the NSW Government has ever prepared a comprehensive plan for the region all the way from Taree in the south to the Queensland border in the north," Mr Stokes said.
"The North Coast is growing from 543,000 to 640,000 people over the next 20 years and Tweed is the fastest growing."
He said the plan had been prepared in conjunction with the 13 councils of the region, including Tweed Shire Council which is expected to absorb the bulk of the growth.
Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie were also declared regional cities of the North Coast.
Mr Stokes said the region was expected to grow by 97,000 people over the next 20 years, requiring an additional 72,000 new homes.
"Over 90% of (the population growth) will be people aged 65 and over, which really puts a new focus on the need for jobs in health related services; (with) already 32,000 thousand people (working) in health," he said.
Mr Stokes said more funding was likely to be driven into the region as a result of the new classification.
"The regional city designation might mean a clear direction to state agencies about where infrastructure is most needed," he said.
Tweed Shire Council general manager Troy Green welcomed the draft plan saying the Tweed shire's 'city' would be at Tweed Heads.
"Tweed has said for some time that we are the major city centre in the Northern Rivers, and what this really does is shore up the things that we've said," Mr Green said.
"State Government and Local Government with the Commonwealth Government need to be able to plan for the right infrastructure for the growing population in the CBD.
"That will come with employment, the arts and culture, and all the great things that come with a vibrant city. We're really excited about it."
However, he said residents needn't consider a name change of the council to Tweed City Council anytime soon.
"That's a matter for council (but) the biggest council in the state is Sutherland Shire; the term 'Shire' doesn't mean small, shire represents a large geographical area," Mr Green said.
Tweed MP Geoff Provest said the Tweed electorate would now have a definitive point of reference when fighting for State Government funding.
He believed the plan had a balanced approach between the needs of the agricultural, environment and tourism sectors, but also welcomed public comment to fine-tune its approach, with submissions open until Thursday, June 2.
"This is a great deal of support because the Local Government funding is based on 'are you a city, or are you not a city' and that's roughly used as a benchmark," Mr Provest said.
Tweed Shire Council Mayor Katie Milne said councillors had received the report for the first time today.
"We'll obviously have a really good look at it and scrutinise it really well," she said.
"These regional plans are very important for how the Tweed develops in the future, and particularly in regard to population growth."
Mr Gulaptis said the plan addressed the needs of those moving from metropolitan Sydney into the North Coast, via Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie - also announced as regional cities today.
"This is a really important moment in history for the North Coast," he said.
"(The draft plan) is consistent with the lifestyle of the communities of the North Coast and yet it meets with the aspirations of the families that want to live and work here into the future."
View the plan at www.planning.nsw.gov.au/northcoast