Monday, February 15, 2016

Community Perspective on Planning for the Future

Between 1948 and 1963 the Northumberland County Council prepared a Town and Country Planning Scheme for the Lower Hunter region. It included the Local Government City of Greater Newcastle, the City of Greater Cessnock, City of Maitland, the Shire of Lake Macquarie and the Shire of Port Stephens. The County Council was composed of elected Councillors 3 from Newcastle 2 from Cessnock 1 from Maitland and 1 each from Lake Macquarie and from Port Stephens Shires. The Council was supported by a County Clerk and Chief County Planner and professional staff.

The County Council was disbanded in 1963 and local planning powers were returned to Local Governments with the state retaining power through the State Planning Authority Act 1963.

The most important planning legislation for the whole State of NSW was the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

In recent years especially under the current State Government there has been attempts to breakdown the provisions of the act and introduce amendments that have removed Local Government influence. Environmental planning in NSW has unfortunately been subverted from planning for the future to a narrow facilitation of development process for Central Government.

The Parks and Playgrounds Movement together with the Newcastle Council in 1989 conducted a workshop titled 'A Community Perspective on Planning for Newcastle's Future'. The report and its findings are pertinent to the Draft planning instrument currently on exhibition that will affect Newcastle and the Lower Hunter (Northumberland County Area) and we would hope that communities in NSW affected by planning instruments may find the ideas adopted at this workshop useful for their own local area.

Top: Nobbys (Whibayganba) A Newcastle Icon. Foreground: Macquarie Pier - Newcastle's most popular promenade. Bottom Adamstown Rifle Range - Part of Newcastle's Green Belt. Photo: Historic Target Butts                  

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