In 2014, the NSW Department of Planning & Environment provided funding to Cessnock & Singleton Councils to jointly deliver a project to coordinate cross-jurisdictional planning to support timely & cost-effective growth & change within the area. City Plan Strategy & Development (CPSD) was appointed by Cessnock & Singleton Councils to prepare a Land Use Strategy & Structure Plan for the Subregion, supported by a Masterplan for Branxton’s Town Centre. This was the first Subregional Strategy in the Hunter Region to be prepared collaboratively between two Councils & the State government.
This project was nominated in the 2016 PIA NSW Awards for Planning Excellence – the Hard Won Victory.
The Land Use Strategy outlined a vision, objectives & benchmarks for land use planning & development within the Subregion to 2041. It is supported by the Structure Plan, which sets out more detailed considerations for specific growth areas & an indicative program to guide the servicing & release of lands for development in the coming years. The Masterplan provided an Indicative Layout, with recommended changes to land uses & street layouts within & around the town centre. It was supported by a Public Domain Plan, focusing on the Main Street, which forms part of the New England Highway. Specific design solutions were provided to address road safety, improve street tree planting, & protect heritage features. These improvements will assist the Town Centre to retain its distinct character, & strengthen its attraction to visitors at the doorstep of the Hunter Valley Vineyards & within a rapidly growing Subregion.
The project team lead by CPSD overcame challenges associated with a myriad of stakeholders, planning controls & data sources. The community demonstrated instant interest & the Project engendered a level of local ownership & fostered an open & effective working relationship between local business owners & Councils. Longer lasting outcomes relate to the impact that the Strategy will have on land use planning in the broader Subregion. The Project provides a comprehensive strategic direction for considering the suitability of new lands for development & determining the quantum & timing of land required in each of the identified growth areas. New benchmarks have been established in the region for collaboration amongst a wide range of stakeholders. The Project showcases the benefits of engagement in planning systems & concepts via an interactive mapping tool, where local government boundaries are no barrier.