A draft regional plan for Wide Bay Burnett does not properly address the region’s challenges or unlock new opportunities, Fraser Coast Regional Council said today.
Councillor, David Lewis said the new Regional Plan was meant to set the direction for managing population growth and regional development over the next 25 years.
“Council believes that the draft Regional Plan does not represent an accurate or complete vision for the Wide Bay Burnett region and does not contain the foundations to address the region’s challenges or unlock the region’s significant opportunities,” said Cr Lewis.
He said the document required more collaboration with Councils and has called on the Queensland Government to reject the plan in its current form.
“If adopted in its current form, the plan will cause significant additional financial cost to Council given it would increase conflicts rather than reduce them.”
Cr Lewis said important actions and priorities relating to the Fraser Coast region were inaccurately reflected or not considered at all in the draft plan.
“A concerning outcome of the lack of collaboration with Council is the failure of the draft Plan to recognise many key infrastructure priorities and opportunities,” he said.
“The draft plan inaccurately identifies digital connectivity and water supply as the only ‘critical regional infrastructure’ and fails to recognise the full scope of regionally significant infrastructure or support opportunities for expansion.
“We believe the plan should also acknowledge the Maryborough Bypass to provide direct connection to Hervey Bay from the Bruce Highway.
“This is a major freight priority for employment growth in Hervey Bay and would take pressure off the Maryborough-Hervey Bay Road network and possibly defer investment in the congested road network in Maryborough.”
He said a plan for Urangan Harbour failed to recognise that the harbour walls need to be expanded to deliver the ultimate masterplan vision.
“There is no mention of an upgrade, possibly to four lanes, of the Maryborough Hervey Bay Road or a new flood free bridge between Maryborough and Granville, nor is there any mention of planning to extend a four lane Bruce Highway to Maryborough,” he said.
Councillor, Darren Everard said consultation to prepare the draft had been limited and disjointed due to COVID-19 disruptions and multiple changes in the Queensland Government staff managing the project.
“The State Government did not request any relevant information or data and Council was not meaningfully engaged in the preparation of the draft Plan which has resulted in extensive inaccuracies and policy conflicts,” he said.
“For example, from 2016 to 2021, the Wide Bay Burnett region grew by 18,619 people. The Fraser Coast region accounted for 49% of the growth, a trend predicted to continue.
“This is not reflected in the drafting of the content and mapping of the various centres and their existing and future functions.”
Cr Lewis said he hoped the Queensland Government would consider Council’s request not to adopt the draft Regional Plan in its current form and to instead consult Councils on the development of a new draft.
“The current draft plan creates more problems than it solves, and it is a net negative for the Fraser Coast region. It should not be endorsed or adopted by the State Government,” he said.
The Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning began a review of the Wide Bay Burnett Regional Plan in 2019 to ensure it aligned with the region’s changing economy and projected population increase for the next 25 years.
Feedback on the draft closes on Friday (23 February). A copy of the draft plan is available here.