The unveiling of Parkes as the first site for a NSW Government “Special Activation Precinct” and inland port is the result of years of careful planning for the future, Parkes Shire Council General Manager said on Monday.
“This is no overnight success,” Mr Boyd said, “The Parkes National Logistics Hub has been a long-term community vision that has been top-of-mind since the railway went through Parkes in the 1800s.
“Council has not been sitting back waiting for these announcements; for years we have been busy preparing the region for economic growth and population growth, investing in action to attract industry and create the environment which has made other tiers of government confident to invest in our region.
“The Federal Government’s 2017 Budget commitment to Inland Rail cemented our vision, with the Brisbane to Melbourne line scheduled to be completed by 2025, positioning Parkes at the axis of the north-south and east-west rail lines.”
Parkes’ strategic readiness was highlighted by the Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, the Hon. John Barilaro at the launch of the NSW Government’s 20-year Vision for Regional NSW where he congratulated Council on its vision.
“We share Parkes Shire Council’s vision, and we will scope out the infrastructure needs. The roads, the electricity, the gas, the high-speed internet requirements, to make the first Special Activation Precinct and a world-class logistics hub.”
Mr Boyd said Council has implemented long-term strategic action in recent years to prepare for our region’s needs over the next 50 years’, including:
- Investing in $100 million infrastructure improvements to future proof our water supply.
- Securing $4.2 million Federal Government funding to upgrade the Parkes CBD
- Implementation of an Airport Master Plan
- Invested in concepts and plans, leading to Council securing $2.2 million NSW Government funding to expand the public library
- Major upgrades to Parkes Waste Facility to sustainable outcomes in terms of operating efficiency, safety and environmental performance.
- Undertaking the largest roads program to-date, investing $18 million last financial year towards upgrading and maintaining the Shire’s regional road assets.
“Another key focus has been securing the potential of the National Logistics Hub as the epicentre of the region’s economic growth, including attracting industries that will add value to our agricultural produce resulting in greater returns to growers.
“We have been looking beyond the area scoped originally to create buffer zones that protect industry from encroachment and to protect neighbouring residents, prevent inappropriate development inhibiting expansion of the Hub or curtailing the kind of industry that might establish there.”
Mr Boyd said Council’s exhaustive efforts to protect the future success and prosperity of the Hub included engaging independent specialist consultants to identify which adjacent land was strategically important to buffer the Hub, and to undertake valuations on that land.
“Once the consultants determined which land was strategically important, Council approached those landholders to negotiate to purchase an option, which secures the right to buy those strategically important parcels of land in the future, at an agreed price, set by independent valuations.
“To be clear, this is no windfall gain for these landholders, but an offer at a fair market price determined by multiple independent valuations, and we are only in negotiations at this stage with no options finalised and only with willing parties.
“There is no budget set aside by Council to purchase the land, however we believe it is important to take every step to ensure there are no impediments to the future economic growth of the region.”
The independent consultant identified land owned by Mayor Cr Ken Keith's family for almost 100 years as one of the parcels that was strategically important to the Hub.
“Council has robust procedures in place to protect against potential conflict of interest, and we took extra steps in this instance to ensure there was no question about probity, this has gone as far as excluding the Mayor from any involvement or discussions, or receiving any information, relating to Council’s purchase of land options.
“Council is committed to treating all landholders equitably, and that the process of securing the Hub’s future was not derailed by any suggestion of inappropriate governance,” Mr Boyd said.
Mr Boyd added that Council is committed to acting in the best interests of the community, and securing options on this strategically important land was just one amongst dozens of Council’s endeavours to shore up the region’s future economic prosperity and opportunities.