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Plans that put people and places first

Publish Date 19/08/2021

It’s easier than ever for communities in Port Stephens to understand and get involved in planning for the future of their place.

People gather on picnic blankets at a market, with food trucks in the background

Place plans are being developed for a number of towns across Port Stephens, with a strong focus on the values of the local community and their priorities for the future.

Council’s Strategic Planning Coordinator Liz Lamb says it’s a way of planning that puts people and places first.

“Place plans start with our community — your values and priorities for your place. Together, we identify the unique local character of a place and the ways our community can enhance or protect these aspects.

“A place plan is guided by strategic documents — we put a local filter on all of our Council’s existing strategies to make one easy-to-read, action-oriented plan. It also includes analysis of potential opportunities for a place in line with the community’s vision,” she said.

Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer says place plans aim to improve the liveability and wellbeing of communities.

“Every place is unique and so is every place plan. That’s why a place plan may include things like events and activities, major projects and works, land use changes and more.

“The most important part of a place plan is the activation plan. It includes projects or ideas to create more vibrant places for people to connect, discover and enjoy with their community.

“These actions can be championed by our community — including community groups, local businesses, schools, clubs or individuals. It builds on the success of the 7 Day Makeovers in Anna Bay and Medowie, where we saw what people-power can really achieve.

“We know our community want to see action in their town centres, not plans that sit on a shelf. That’s why we’re taking a collaborative approach and working with our community to create great places.

“You’re the expert when it comes to your place — we need your local knowledge and passion for your place to help develop a plan and make things happen,” he said.

Liz Lamb says the place planning process builds on feedback from the 2020 Port Stephens Liveability Index.

“We start with the 2020 Liveability Index feedback to identify what each community values most and their priorities for their place. There are plenty of opportunities for people to get involved along the way.

“Through a series of collaborative workshops, we’ll seek community input and our technical experts will use this to create opportunities for meaningful improvements in a place.

“We’ll then test this draft with the local community to make sure we’re on the right track and get more feedback. Once the final plan is endorsed by Council, it’s time for action. That’s when we’ll need strong community support to get things happening in each place.

“We’ll be coming to Anna Bay, Shoal Bay, Karuah, Medowie and the West in the next few months.

“While not every place will have a place plan, we’ll be rolling out this collaborative approach over the coming years as we plan for the future of our towns,” she said.

Find out more about place plans and how to get involved at portstephens.nsw.gov.au/placeplans