Gunnedah omitted from New England North West Regional Plan

Council says more emphasis must be placed on Gunnedah in the regional development plan.
Council says more emphasis must be placed on Gunnedah in the regional development plan.

Answers have been sought why a regional development plan, which aims to drive agricultural and resource productivity in our area, has largely omitted Gunnedah from its focus.

The Draft New England North West Regional Plan, which also intends to maintain and preserve areas of high environmental value, water catchments and heritage, applies to 12 local government areas in the New England North West. It seeks to guide development and investment in these regions until 2036.

But in a nearly two-dozen point submission, Gunnedah Shire Council was critical of the plan.

We ask they don’t forget Gunnedah

Director of planning, Andrew Johns

“It’s very Tamworth-Armidale orientated,” council’s director of planning and environment Andrew Johns said.

“We ask they don’t forget Gunnedah because we’re an important part in the region.”

Amendments sought by council include recognition of Gunnedah as key expansion area for the poultry industry. Strong emphasis is placed on Tamworth but the report failed to mention expansion developments at the Baiada breeder farm near Curlewis or as flagged by councillor Owen Hasler, the 20,000-bird operation at Kelvin.

Gunnedah was also omitted in the report on major livestock facilities according to council’s March business paper, despite Gunnedah Saleyards being “consistently in the top-five selling centres in NSW for beef cattle, $92m in 2016”.

The plan’s renewal energy project list also failed to mention Gunnedah’s new solar farm development at the old abattoir site on Quia Rd.

Neither did it recognise Gunnedah’s work to leverage foreign markets for the betterment of local community. 

Cr Gae Swain highlighted the increasing strain on medical services in Gunnedah as one of main impediments to regional growth.

“In small communities like ours, it’s a huge impost,” she said.

“One of the first things people moving here look at is access to medical services.

“I think it’s an issue that’s been swept under the carpet.”

Matters flagged by council will be raised with the Department of Planning and Environment.