Maintaining the essence of rural life, that's the plan
THE council has its job cut out shaping the future of Tweed Shire's small villages judging by the competing views of residents.
The age-old conflict between maintaining the unique essence of rural life and the population growth required to boost services was highlighted when residents were asked to list the most important feature of their village.
"It's important my village stays small, isn't over-developed, isn't overrun and retains its village atmosphere," said a resident from the Burringbar/Mooball area.
But for every similar sentiment there was another like this from a resident: "Mooball and Burringbar need development to survive. School and pre-school are in decline."
Residents' views were gleaned from a series of public meetings which began last month to identify priorities for the future of key rural villages across the Tweed including Burringbar, Chillingham, Mooball, Stokers Siding, Tumbulgum, Tyalgum and Uki.
It's part of the council's rural villages strategy which moved into a new phase this week with residents invited to share online their experiences of village life.
The council's strategic planner, Matthew Zenkteler, said the strategy was about recognising the distinct characteristics that made each village special, and identifying the opportunities and challenges likely to arise as council sought to protect and promote those values.
"The best people to do that are the people who live, work, learn and play in the villages every day," Mr Zenkteler said.
He said those expressing a desire for more development often owned land in their village which they wanted to subdivide.
He said Chillingham and Stokers Siding residents appeared to reject growth outright, while Uki was open to sustainable development in keeping with the character of the area.
Residents are being asked to visit the council's online hub to share their stories, photos and videos.
"You might like to share a picture of your favourite picnic spot, or a memory of growing up locally, or perhaps you have a great idea to re-invigorate the village economy," Mr Kenkteler said.
Further community meetings are scheduled for early next year, when a discussion paper will be presented based on feedback collected.
The council will call for expressions of interest for two residents of each village to sit on an advisory panel for the strategy.