Opinion | Vision useless unless implemented properly

In early October I read an opinion piece about the Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan [GNP].

I have also been watching the development of this “vision” over the last few years and think it is a great document that attempts to strike a good balance between community expectations, the environment and developers.

The document notes that “the Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan aligns with the vision and goals of the Hunter Regional Plan 2036”.

Murray Wood

Murray Wood

It goes on to say that “This Plan applies the environmental directions and actions in the Hunter Regional Plan 2036 [HRP] to invest in conservation (including biodiversity offsets) that will protect, and where possible, enhance habitat connections”.

The “vision” is however only as good as the authorities that implement it and the documents will become nothing more than meaningless lip service if policies are not implemented with vigour.

At a local level all the councils are doing everything they can to plan in a way that is consistent with the vision of the reports. 

However I find it ironic that the State Government itself is setting a benchmark for developers on how to weaken the vision of the plan. Mambo Wetlands is a perfect example.

While the State Government was releasing the HRP that outlines how it will protect and enhance habitat connections and stop the incremental sale of environmentally sensitive land, the State Government itself was organising a fire sale of “a small environmentally sensitive” block of land.

The Mambo Wetlands.

While we have been told this was a “mistake”, information obtained under the freedom of information act (GIPA) shows that this was anything but. 

“Divest as is – subject to investigation into the ecological significance on the site and the potential for re-zoning to a higher value zoning. If results of planning and Ecological Assessments are uneconomic, proceed directly to divestment phase”.

We have been advised that the state government is now looking at a buy back.

It seems to me that the HRP and GNMP will be weak and meaningless documents as long as the left hand of the Government doesn’t talk to the right. 

 I’ll be interested to see how the Mambo Wetlands issue progresses as we get closer to the election.

  • Murray Wood is a Port Stephens resident and architect

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