Lismore upgraded to 'regional city' in North Coast Regional Plan

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Lismore City Council has successfully petitioned the NSW Government to upgrade the status of Lismore in the North Coast Regional Plan (NCRP) from a second-tier ‘regional centre’ to a recognised ‘regional city’.

The NCRP will guide strategic planning across the North Coast over the next 20 years, covering the council areas of Ballina, Bellingen, Byron, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, Kyogle, Lismore, Nambucca, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Richmond Valley and Tweed.

The NCRP targets growth in nominated ‘regional cities’ and Council was deeply concerned that second-tier status would seriously disadvantage Lismore’s chance at securing state government investment. Lismore Mayor Isaac Smith said he believed arguments put forth by Council staff in a joint submission with Richmond Valley and Kyogle councils, and strong advocacy from Lismore MP Thomas George, helped sway the NSW Government’s stance.

“This is fantastic news for Lismore – we could have potentially missed out on significant recognition and consequent state government infrastructure funding. Now we have a seat at the table with our other three regional cities, Tweed, Coffs and Port,” Isaac said.

“We are thrilled we have been able to negotiate with the state government and secure this significant change in the plan. The reality is, for hundreds of thousands of people living on the North Coast, Lismore is the regional city and where they come for important services. We need to grow our population to maintain our prosperity and in order to do that, we need to see continued investment in infrastructure and health services to meet the needs of that growing population.”

Direction 7 of the NCRP is to grow the North Coast’s regional cities as a focus for economic activity and population growth. Regional action plans will be prepared for regional cities, in collaboration with councils, to coordinate future investment and infrastructure for housing and jobs growth.

“For many years Lismore has played the role of a regional city and it is considered the business, sporting, education and medical capital of the Northern Rivers,” Lismore MP Thomas George said.

“I believe the inclusion of an inland city is vital to highlight the important economic and social benefits inland areas contribute to New South Wales and Lismore can certainly do that.”

Council put forward a strong case to be upgraded to a regional city, citing major regional government services that require ongoing funding such as Lismore Base Hospital, a district court and Southern Cross University, as well as the fact that the NSW Government’s own Fit for the Future report singled out Lismore as the regional centre of the Northern Rivers.

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