There are a number of major projects and significant issues occupying Council time at present, the most significant of which is the LEP. The Economic Growth Strategy, Rural and Residential Land study and the Freight and Transport Infrastructure study have been on public display on the Council website and in Council offices in recent weeks, requesting public feedback and comment. The studies provide background information for Council to develop the Long Term Strategic Planning Statement which ultimately feeds into the Local Environment Plan (LEP).
It all sounds rather bureaucratic and meaningless to the average ratepayer who is more worried about the roads, garbage collection and other council services.
It is, however, the most significant process the Hilltops Council will undertake in the next 20 years and it will affect all ratepayers. It is important that people make themselves aware of the recommendations in these reports (which are not council policy but recommendations of consultants) and provide feedback to Council so that we are informed of what the community thinks and wants.
In early 2020, a road show throughout the towns and villages will be held to engage with the community on the key issues of land use and zoning, freight and transport logistics and social and community infrastructure. The recommendations contained in the three reports currently out on public display are by and large based on historic growth levels for regional NSW generally and not necessarily reflective of the attitude of Hilltops Council.
As a Councillor, I constantly hear that Council does nothing to enable growth and there are businesses and people who want to move to the region but can’t find land suitable. That’s why this process is so critical.
As a Councillor, I want to see an LEP that encourages affordable housing developments in Harden, Boorowa and Young and fosters growth of business and industry. We live in arguably the most productive region of NSW, in close proximity to major regional centres such as Wagga and Orange and within an hour and a half of the national’s capital Canberra, which is growing rapidly so we need to maximize our opportunities.
We need to hear from the community so that we know what is important to you and what services and development opportunities that the community is looking for.
The joint use library facility proposed for construction at Young High School is one of the more controversial items that Council has dealt with in recent times. The building design was released for public comment and feedback recently and I think it is fair to say that significant thought has been put into trying to ensure the various user groups will be adequately catered for.
There are no plans or indeed designs to construct a public library anywhere other than at the high school in Young and it has to be acknowledged there are a number of people in the community who are both frustrated and annoyed by this fact.
Given the commitment of the State Government to significant grant funding for the joint use library and cultural centre, I believe it is probable that when the final decision is made, the majority of Councillors will vote to support the proposal and thereby commit the necessary funding from Council. Whilst those who are opposed to the location will not be happy with this outcome, I believe it is important that Council is transparent regarding the matter.
Should this be the case we need to ensure public access is guaranteed at all times when the library is open and that less mobile people are not in any way restricted from gaining access. I also believe Council needs to consider the provision of community transport from a location within the CBD to the library on a regular daily basis.
Assuming that Council does make the final commitment to support the new library, it is proposed that either party (Department of Education or Council) will have the ability to get out of the agreement within 5 years should the shared arrangement not be working satisfactorily. Were this to happen, Council will be refunded the money commitment.
__Tony Flanery __
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