CIVIC leaders have told a Property Council lunch how better collaboration between local governments could help shape the future of the Hunter and Central Coast.
Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer, Lake Macquarie City Council CEO Morven Cameron and Central Coast Council CEO Gary Murphy were the local government officials on the luncheon's panel on Friday.
They said the Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan (GNMP) had created a shared vision for councils to look beyond their own backyards and create a better place to live, work and visit.
Ms Nelmes said the plan would allow governments to “retrofit the integration” of land use and transport planning in areas where there had been “growth in urbanization that’s been quite organic and in some cases maybe not overly well planned”.
“Nothing ever happens alone, it’s always through working with other parties,” she said. “This document, because it’s a very bottom-up document, has taken all the other plans that councils have done for decades and put them together in one document … to get the best out of this region as a group.”
Mr Palmer said each council needed to deliver on its role and said that despite much of Port Stephens not falling inside the plan’s area, it still had a key role to play.
“We know what our role is and that’s the job creation around the airport and growing that airport precinct going down to Tomago,” he said. “The line does go through Port Stephens but we have an important role to play with the tourism space.
“That airport plays an important role for the whole region, and not just the Hunter region but the Central Coast and North Coast as well.”
Mr Palmer said that while the councils did not always work together, he believed they were working more closely now than at anytime over the past “50 years”.
Ms Cameron said Lake Macquarie’s biggest challenge, which was not dissimilar to other areas, was the changing economy and adapting to it at speed.
“In 2013, mining and manufacturing was 36 per cent of our city’s output,” she said. “In 2017, it was only 21 per cent.”
She said there was little time to plan for the changes as they were “happening right in front our eyes”.
“We don’t have three, four, five, ten years to plan for this and be ready, this is happening now and we have to react.
“That’s a really exciting challenge but it’s a big challenge for our city.”