A new regional plan is being prepared to boost economic opportunities and create jobs for the Wide Bay Burnett region.
Minister for Planning Cameron Dick said regional plans are prepared under the Planning Act 2016 as long-term, strategic planning documents which bring together councils and communities in the area to address matters such as housing supply, economic development, industrial, environment, transport and infrastructure requirements.
“Regional plans are also subject to review at periodic intervals, to ensure they remain relevant and allow regions to capitalise on and respond to new and emerging opportunities and challenges.
“As part of the regional planning process, the Palaszczuk Government has recently implemented a new South East Queensland Regional Plan and has also progressed the first-ever regional plan for North Queensland,” he said.
“The current regional plan for the Wide Bay Burnett area, which comprises the Fraser Coast, North Burnett and South Burnett council areas, Bundaberg, Gympie and Cherbourg was released in 2011, and is the next region to undergo a review, given the significant change in the area.
“The Wide Bay Burnett region is growing, with an additional 67,200 people expected to be living in the region by 2041, requiring 34,100 new dwellings to be built and more than 24,000 new jobs.
“Within that projected population growth, more than 8,000 people are expected to settle in Maryborough alone, so we need a robust plan which balances the need for homes and jobs while protecting the lifestyle which towns like Maryborough, and the region, offer,” Mr Dick said.
“The new plan will have a tailored economic strategy which aligns land use, infrastructure and industry development to help support the expected growth in this region.
“The economic strategy will identify priorities that build upon the region’s competitive advantages in aviation, advanced manufacturing and aquaculture and tourism, while also addressing any possible barriers to economic growth.
“With a $20 billion-dollar manufacturing sector in Queensland, the Wide Bay region is well positioned to leverage off this and create more jobs into the future.
“The revised Wide Bay Burnett regional plan will build on existing strengths in the sector and will support new and emerging industries and build a thriving economy over the next 25 years.
“Residents will be encouraged to have their say on how they want their local area and region to look in the future.
“We are also seeing changing household needs in the region and we need to consider what this means for future residents.
“The new plan will be developed in conjunction with the six councils and all Mayors will be invited to join a regional planning committee.”
Amongst other things the regional planning process will help:
- identify key infrastructure and servicing needs for each local government area
- recognise the importance of the Port of Bundaberg and Bundaberg State Development Area
- manage growth in established regional centres like Hervey Bay, Kingaroy, Gayndah and Gympie
- identify industrial land supply to support future investment
- protect the natural environment and leverage tourism opportunities (for example Fraser Island).
“Importantly, the revised plan will integrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge, culture and tradition as part of the planning process, following changes to Queensland’s planning legislation.
Chair of the Wide Bay Burnett Regional Organisation of Councils and Mayor of Gympie Regional Council, Councillor Mick Curran, welcomed the announcement.
“I am looking forward to increased collaboration and local involvement in this process as this will foster a strong and inclusive region,” Cr Curran said.
“Our region has been advocating for the review of the regional plan and I’m pleased that the review process has now commenced. This is another example of the State Government listening to our community.”
Member for Maryborough, Bruce Saunders, said the stronger focus on economic development in the regional plan would help the region prioritise key projects for funding, attract investment, create jobs and grow the economy.
“By building upon the significant work already undertaken in the region to set an agreed economic direction, the regional plan will ensure the resulting economic priorities and actions are owned and driven by the region, underpinned by analysis and policy,” Mr Saunders said.
“It’s an exciting time as we work together to deliver a regional plan that captures all the ingredients – an economic strategy incorporating industry development and land use requirements, as well as infrastructure requirements – that allow the economy, industry and communities to prosper.”
The Regional Planning Committee will now be established, and the community will be given an opportunity to have their say on the review of the regional plan in coming months.
As part of our commitment to deliver an enhanced economic focus to the regional plan, a set of economic development workshops will be held with stakeholders to determine economic priorities that are inclusive, sustainable and promote the region’s growth.