With the Inland Rail coming to Parkes within the next 10 years, the NSW Government has launched a blueprint that will guide planning and land use decisions for the region.
NSW Minister for Planning and Housing Anthony Roberts was in Parkes on Wednesday, along with the mayors and deputy mayors from Parkes, Forbes, Lachlan and Warren, Western NSW Parliamentary Secretary Rick Colless and Department of Planning and Environment chief planner Gary White.
Together at the National Logistics Hub, they launched the Central West and Orana Regional Plan to guide the 19 local government areas in the region over the next two decades.
“It’s exciting to see the councils put aside their differences and their differences with the state government from the past and come together to ask where are we going to go,” Mr Roberts said.
The plan – detailed in a 76-page booklet with 29 directions – shows how improved infrastructure will unlock access to growing consumer markets, grow and diversify economies, and strengthen the connectivity between the region’s cities, centres and towns.
It identifies five priority growth sectors including transport and logistics, agribusiness and value-added manufacturing, tourism, mining and renewable energy and a growing service sector.
By 2036, it is expected the region will have one of the most diverse regional economies in NSW.
“Ongoing upgrades to the transport and freight networks and planned future developments, such as Western Sydney Airport and the proposed Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail, will help the region prosper,” Mr Roberts said.
“The regional plans demonstrate that we have a strategic approach for our regional centres, as much as we do for the growth of Sydney.”
Mr Roberts said the focus is to get people out of the city and into regional areas.
“Sydney’s population will increase by two million people in 20 years,” he said.
“This plan is about ensuring our kids have jobs and not losing them to Sydney, and the focus is on how do we develop more jobs and skilled jobs.
“With a good mix of industries – medical and health, and education on top of mining, agriculture and tourism – you can actually drought proof regions.
“If we don’t start working together, small towns start to disappear.
“This is it, here’s the plan, here’s the directions...so they (towns) become great places to live.
“They need this in Parkes and Forbes.”
NSW Government investments in the region have included $241.3 million for the Dubbo Base Hospital redevelopment, $60 million to upgrade Mudgee Hospital, $140 million towards the duplication of the LH Ford Bridge at Dubbo, $28 million towards the Bells Line of Road upgrade and $21 million for a five-staged potable water supply pipeline from Orange to Blayney and Carcoar Dam.
“There’s potential for wind farms in the Central West and solar farms in the Orana, and the NSW Government is working with the Commonwealth on a proposed bio-hub at Dubbo,” Mr Roberts said.
He said upgrades to major roads and new infrastructure, new housing release areas such as North Orange, Shiralee, Kelso and South East Dubbo, developing regional design guidelines, and allowing more choice in housing types will help meet the needs of future residents.
Parkes deputy mayor Barbara Newton said it was a real privilege to host the launch in Parkes.
“We try our very best to do what we can for our communities,” she said.
“This plan enables our thoughts and wants to come to fruition.
“This sort of thing gives us something to hang onto, our council is willing to run along with this plan.”
Forbes mayor Graeme Miller said the plan was a long time coming.
“We’ve wanted for a long time to become a regional centre,” he said.
“This is going to be a very, very great template for us to work together.”