Infrastructure development in the MidCoast region should be aimed at improving the local economy and living standards, whilst enhancing productivity.
‘Thoughtful Development’ is about ensuring such development is:
- economically viable;
- aesthetically sympathetic to its surrounds;
- sustainable and environmentally sound; and
- necessary or desired by the community.
It is essential that the MidCoast region encourages development which protects new or declining industries and attracts new industries that will benefit the region and result in job creation. At the same time, such development needs to be in keeping with the aesthetics of the surrounding area (including any cultural and heritage aspects), without harm to the region’s native flora and fauna (to the maximum extent possible), and in the best interests of the community.
Thoughtful Development is about ensuring development approved in the MidCoast region is either supplemental to or able to co-exist with existing and thriving industries (including agricultural, industrial and tourism), businesses and communities. Consideration needs to be given to interdependencies between sectors of the local economy.
It is MidCoast Council’s responsibility to ensure that Development Applications for large scale commercial and residential developments are thoroughly investigated and assessed and that the elements of Thoughtful Development, including the community’s voice, are genuinely considered during the approvals process.
I am not sure that our Council has given such consideration to this concept in approving some of the recent developments in the MidCoast Region, including the Kolodong Housing Estate. That Estate will have an extra 3,300 car movements per day. With a nearby school and child care centre. So it is prudent to question whether our current Council has given due consideration to the impact such extra traffic will have on the local community.
A critical part of Thoughtful Development is ensuring the required ancillary infrastructure and amenities are in place, or future planned, to enable such development to successfully occur in our region. Forster, Tea Gardens and Hawks Nest are prime examples that need attention. It is Council’s responsibility to ensure that it is investing in:
- roads that are capable of withstanding heavy vehicle traffic associated with increased construction activity;
- appropriate mitigation measures, including where noise or traffic congestion may be of concern;
- adequate sewer and water utilities; and
- green spaces to offset ecological impacts of development.
The management and use of public assets must become smarter, more productive and more efficient to avoid infrastructure spending becoming unsustainable. Council must adopt innovative, contemporary technologies to improve the operations and maintenance of the ancillary infrastructure and amenities, which Thoughtful Development is reliant upon.
Thoughtful Development also means exploring innovative solutions to address challenges related to urbanisation and sustainability, facilitating a user experience that helps local towns in the MidCoast region to do something new or better. It’s time that MidCoast Council puts ‘Thoughtful Development’ front of mind when approving new developments for our region. Isn’t it time?
Michelle Larin resides in the township of Old Bar. She is a practising infrastructure and projects lawyer, having a decade of experience advising government bodies, statutory utilities and private developers on construction matters, including the procurement and delivery of infrastructure projects.
Given her government experience, Michelle is in a unique position to ensure accountability and compliance with law and government processes.
She is passionate about economic development, community projects and improving the quality of our roads in the MidCoast region.