THE obvious problem with promoting relatively isolated "greenfield" sites for large-scale new residential developments is the lack of existing infrastructure.
Transport is a particular problem, involving major public expense that only increases with distance from established population centres.
In that context, it isn't surprising that concerns have been raised about the provision of transport links to a proposed "new town" between Branxton and North Rothbury. The Huntlee development (formerly Sweetwater) was a controversial inclusion on the NSW Government's Lower Hunter Regional Strategy. Huntlee's critics have cited transport as a particular concern.
According to the most recent revised project report on Huntlee, this concern has not diminished. The Roads and Traffic Authority has warned that, if the F3 link to Branxton does not proceed, the New England Highway could need an extra two lanes in each direction.
The Ministry of Transport has also poured cold water on the idea of significant new rail services to the area, noting that "limited scope" exists for new services and suggesting that money earmarked by the Huntlee developer to upgrade Branxton railway station might be better spent on bus facilities.
Naturally the developer has argued that, since the proposal was incorporated in the Lower Hunter Regional Strategy, infrastructure and transport plans ought to reflect the fact.
Others will argue and have long argued that it would be more cost-effective to devote limited resources to putting new residential developments in places more accessible to transport.
Either way, the debate again highlights chronic underinvestment in the Hunter's vital transport network.
The F3 link has been frozen while the latest in a long line of expensive transport studies takes place and the most recent NSW infrastructure blueprint reveals hardly any transport plans for the region for the foreseeable future. Without investment in transport links, the grand dreams of planners and developers will struggle to be realised.
Hard to say goodbye
DANNY Buderus's energy, mobility and relentless defence arguably helped redefine the role of the hooker in rugby league. He has proven an inspirational club captain, leading more by deeds than words.
Buderus has been a fine ambassador for his team and his town in good times and bad.
It's a tragedy that his career with Newcastle should have finished, abruptly and painfully, with a serious injury.
The Knights skipper who has signed a two-year contract to play for Leeds in the UK was to have played his farewell home match for Newcastle on Saturday. But like his illustrious predecessors Andrew Johns and Paul Harragon, he will be forced by injury to watch from the sidelines.
His many fans will mourn the lost opportunity for a real homeground farewell, but all will wish him a speedy and complete recovery.
His contribution to rugby league and to Newcastle won't be quickly forgotten.