Monday, April 22, 2024

Toowoomba seeks public input on region’s development

TRC Planning and Development Committee portfolio leader Cr Bill Cahill (left), Snow co-owner David Snow, TRC Planning and Development Committee chair Cr Megan O’Hara Sullivan and Toowoomba Region Mayor Paul Antonio.

Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) is preparing to seek wide public input into a major planning project, titled Toowoomba Region Futures, that will build a community vision for the Region’s growth and development for the next 30 years.

Consultation in 2019 identified a range of potential improvements to the Planning Scheme and infrastructure plans. The Toowoomba Region Futures program launch aims to further identify new ways to improve planning and development in the Region and seek community input to these solutions.

Toowoomba Region Mayor Paul Antonio said public feedback would be sought via a range of forums in 2021, with ongoing consultation to continue in the following years, to ensure the Toowoomba Region Futures program would deliver key strategic planning strategies to cater for a diverse and growing Region.

“The Toowoomba Region Futures program is a five-year project that will deliver a new Toowoomba Region Planning Scheme, a Growth Plan (to guide population and employment growth) and a Toowoomba Region Infrastructure Plan (TRIP),” Mayor Antonio said.

“The Planning Scheme guides how land is used and developed. Council is seeking ideas from the community during the strategic planning stage of the process. A more informed Planning Scheme helps Council streamline approval processes, especially when contemplating the location of future residential zones,” he said.

“Given the projected population growth and expansion of our Region, Council is working to ensure the new Planning Scheme meets community needs and expectations for the next 30 years and beyond.

“Population forecasts indicate our Region could be home to at least another 55,000 people over the next 30 years. The Planning Scheme is Council’s key plan for the region’s future development and shapes many of our prized lifestyle attributes. It is important that we retain and enhance our Region’s appealing lifestyle features and infrastructure that will continue to attract new residents and investors.

“Our Region has seen considerable growth since the adoption of the current scheme in 2012 with major projects, such as the Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport and the $1.6 billion Toowoomba Second Range Crossing, now operational. This is in addition to ongoing expansion in areas such as the Toowoomba Trade Gateway and other areas of the Region that are attracting new or emerging industries and developments.

“One of our objectives is to include more detailed policies in the new scheme to offer clearer and more consistent information for users of the Toowoomba Region Planning Scheme.

“While the current scheme has served the community well, it’s clear that we need to improve the Planning Scheme’s alignment with community values and State Planning Policy.”

TRC Planning and Development Committee chair, Councillor Megan O’Hara Sullivan said Council was seeking feedback from a large cross section of the community to ensure future challenges would be addressed.

“How will our projected population increase over the next 30 years be housed and serviced within the region’s urban framework? What infrastructure is needed? How will this development be balanced against protecting key considerations such as, heritage and environmental issues and protection of amenity within the Region’s existing neighbourhoods?,” Cr O’Hara Sullivan said.

“The Planning Scheme affects all development in the Toowoomba Region. It is therefore important that we hear from property owners, developers, business owners or anyone who wants to play a role in shaping the future of their street, neighbourhood or town.”

Cr O’Hara Sullivan said the work to build a community vision for growth and development would help Council clearly define a plan for growth that included:

• Defining what land can be used for future housing, farming or industrial and commercial purposes,
• Controlling how land is developed, such as converting an office into a retail shop,
• Identifying where essential urban infrastructure, (water, wastewater, sewerage, parks and transport networks), are needed to support existing and emerging communities, and
• Protecting our natural, rural and urban landscapes and other specific areas of cultural significance.

She Sullivan said the project would tap into the needs and aspirations of the Region’s varied and unique communities.

“Ideally, the Planning Scheme should recognise and reflect differences that need to be applied when assessing regulation of development in greater Toowoomba (South East Queensland) and the rest of the Region.”

“We look forward to receiving feedback throughout the project as we plan for an even brighter future for our Region and successive generations.”

Cr O’Hara Sullivan said Council expected to adopt the new Planning Scheme by December 2023 ahead of it becoming operational by March 2024. This will also include an amendment to the Local Government Infrastructure Plan, which is expected to be completed in July 2022.

TRC Planning and Development Committee portfolio leader, Councillor Bill Cahill said the TRIP was part of the Planning Scheme that dealt with development infrastructure (water, sewerage, stormwater, transport, parks and land needed for community facilities) required to service urban development at the desired standard for our future communities.

“The TRIP is Council’s planned investment in growth, representing a financial commitment to the community and the Queensland Treasury Corporation for the sustainable provision of critical urban infrastructure,” Cr Cahill said.

“The TRIP provides transparency around Council’s provision of trunk infrastructure and allows Council to impose conditions relating to necessary trunk infrastructure on development approvals.

“Planning for infrastructure is a key part of the land use planning system across Queensland as it identifies the infrastructure required to service growth in an efficient, sequential and orderly manner.

“This offers certainty to communities and the development industry on the future of our Region.”

Council started its Planning Scheme review in July 2018 to satisfy State legislative requirements to review the document within 10 years of its most recent adoption. The Toowoomba Regional Planning Scheme was made on July 2, 2012 and must be reviewed by July 2, 2022.

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