The Honourable Anna Bligh
Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure and Planning
The Honourable Paul Lucas
Public input sought on new FNQ regional plan: Bligh
CAIRNS: The State Government has called for community help to shape Far North Queensland's future with today's release of the first of five draft regional plans.
In Cairns Premier Anna Bligh and Deputy Premier Paul Lucas released the draft Far North Queensland Regional Draft Plan 2025 - a blueprint that will guide development in the region over the next two decades.
"The release of a Draft Plan allows residents to comment on their vision for the region so we can protect the Far North's character," said Ms Bligh, flanked by local MPs Desley Boyle (Cairns), Warren Pitt (Mulgrave), Steve Wettenhall (Barron River) and Jason O'Brien (Cook).
"The plan will do so by catering for regional population growth without compromising natural assets or allowing urban sprawl.
"It protects the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics by containing development in identified areas and preserving natural drawcards for future generations.
"Th is is the first statutory regional plan to be launched outside the State's south-east and the first of five such plans due in draft form this year.
"I encourage everyone in this spectacular and diverse region to have a say- it's your home and your future. It's about us all planning for our future and managing our growth."
The Draft Plan recognises the threats of climate change and oil shortages to the region by concentrating future population growth close to existing centres.
The Draft Plan shows:
• Far North Queensland is predicted to be home to 323,000 people by 2025 - an extra 5,000 people and 2,000 new homes every year.
• about three-quarters of the region's 100,000 new residents will settle in the Cairns area.
• the Regional Landscape and Rural Production Area takes up approximately 99.4% of the region or 7,236,697 ha.
• the urban footprint comprises 0.4% or 27,076 ha and the rural living area comprises 0.2 % or 8426 ha.
• Growth will be concentrated at a new master-planned community at Mount Peter-the area between Edmonton and Gordonvale, west of the Bruce Highway.
• The 1550 ha Mt Peter site has been identified as the last remaining land in the Cairns area with few natural constraints.
• It could provide a mix of housing types and densities for up to 50,000 people and will be supported by a new town centre and enterprise precinct at Edmonton.
"Along with smarter community planning, the region's residents have told the State Government they want better public transport and protection for natural habitats," she said.
"This Draft Plan delivers on all counts. Transit oriented communities will be implemented to reduce car use in Far North Queensland, a strong busway network is on the cards in Cairns and walking and cycling options will be enhanced.
"A unique element of the Plan is that disused light cane rail corridors may ulti mately offer opportunities for future public transport systems.
"Areas of high ecological significance, including wildlife corridors for species like the southern cassowary, will be maintained through the use of urban footprints to minimise the spread of development."
Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure and Planning Paul Lucas said land in the region was categorized as either urban footprint, rural living or regional landscape and rural production areas.
"Using the best social, economic and environmental data available we have identified a preferred development pattern which concentrates growth near Cairns to make use of the strong rapid transit system," Mr Lucas said.
"Mareeba, Atherton, Innisfail, Tully and Mossman are also likely to grow their populations significantly by 2025.
"With more than $850 million being spent on infrastructure in the Far North this financial year alone, it is imperative to plan now for growth in the coming decades."
Mr Lucas said with the draft plan showing there was enough land near Cairns and regional towns to cope with population growth up to 2025, areas identified in the previous plan as likely future regional settlement centres, such as Myola and Clohesy-Koah would not be required until after 2025.
"Under the plan growth would be consolidated near areas close to existing and planned infrastructure, and employment opportunities rather than developing new settlements in places like the Atherton Tablelands."
The Draft Plan also identifies activity centres, infrastructure needs and industrial land requirements.
Following the finalisation of the regional plan by the end of the year, a five-year action plan will be developed. The action plan will outline key priorities and implementation strategies, and identify key projects and actions required.
Mr Lucas also reiterated the importance of community consultation.
"My dep artment will accept submissions until August 8. We want feedback, so make sure you visit www.dip.qld.gov.au
to find out how to lodge a submission," Mr Lucas said.
Copies of the draft plan are available on the website, at regional council offices and the Department of Infrastructure and Planning's Cairns Office.
Media contact: Deputy Premier's Office 3224 4600 (Robert Hoge 0419 757 868)