With city dwellers increasingly looking to relocate to the bush, the NSW government has outlined its plans for five regional hubs.
With city dwellers increasingly looking to relocate to the bush, the NSW government has outlined its plans for five regional hubs.

Bold plan to revamp towns

One is being dubbed Australia's "next Aspen" while another is set to become an inland port under an ambitious state government "bush-tropolis" plan to redevelop five regional areas across the state.

Driven by Nationals leader John Barilaro on the back of the development of inland rail, the regional economic hub scheme is designed to lure big business - and city-dwellers - to the bush with the promise of cheaper costs and up to 18,000 new jobs, while also making rural communities more resilient to drought.

The five target areas earmarked for redevelopment include the Snowy Mountains, Moree, Williamtown, Parkes and Wagga Wagga.

Parkes would become NSW’s new ‘inland port’ — an epicentre of the Nation’s Freight Network. Picture: Jake Nowakowski
Parkes would become NSW’s new ‘inland port’ — an epicentre of the Nation’s Freight Network. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

With the Western Sydney "aerotropolis" commercial hub also competing for business, Mr Barilaro has urged prospective investors thinking about relocating to "keep going" deep into regional NSW.

"We are building not one but five economic powerhouse precincts across 95,000 hectares of land, versus 11,000 in western Sydney - and the cost of land in these special activation precincts is only five per cent of the cost of land in the Western Sydney aerotropolis," he said.

"This is three years in the making and if we can create up to 18,000 new jobs, we are future-proofing these regions from drought with more diversity in the local economy.

"These will be highly skilled jobs, jobs of the future in industries such as aerospace, engineering. COVID has already changed the view that you no longer have to work in Sydney and by building these economic hubs, there will be new jobs in the regions."

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The development and promotion of each of the five proposed economic precincts will each have their own specific focus.

Under the Special Activation Plan (SAP) for Snowy Mountains, the region will be promoted as "Australia's Alpine and Adventure Tourism" with a potential international airport to turn Jindabyne into the "Aspen or Queenstown" of Australia.

The Snowy Mountains region will be promoted as Australia’s Alpine and Adventure Tourism centre on par with Aspen or Queenstown.
The Snowy Mountains region will be promoted as Australia’s Alpine and Adventure Tourism centre on par with Aspen or Queenstown.

As well as tourism, hospitality, sport and recreation industries will be targeted in the 70,000 hectare masterplan for the precinct underway.

In Parkes, 4,800 hectares has been set aside with the completed masterplan in delivery phase.

The industries being targeted include freight and logistics, resource recovery, agriculture and renewable energy with the Government hoping up to 3,000 jobs will be created.

With Parkes on the new inland rail network, region is set to marketed to business as an inland port, or the "epicentre" for logistics.

 

Wagga Wagga has a bright future as the business heart of the Riverina, says Nationals leader John Barilaro. Picture: Jon Armstrong/Destination NSW
Wagga Wagga has a bright future as the business heart of the Riverina, says Nationals leader John Barilaro. Picture: Jon Armstrong/Destination NSW

 

The CSIRO is among businesses that have signed a five-year Memorandum Of Understanding to explore setting up office in the precincts, with Parkes understood to be the frontrunner.

Another 4506 hectares has been set aside at Wagga Wagga, riding on its strategic location with rail and road connections to Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra to be promoted.

According to its draft masterplan, the target industries to be wooed include those involved in

renewables, sustainability and recycling and advanced manufacturing with the government aiming for 6,000 new jobs.

With road, rail and air transport connections, Moree will be promoted as a as intermodal hub with up to 5,800 hectares under investigation as part of its redevelopment plan.

 

FRV's Moree Solar Farm. The region would target agriculture, advanced manufacturing, freight and logistics under the ‘Bush-tropolis’ plan.
FRV's Moree Solar Farm. The region would target agriculture, advanced manufacturing, freight and logistics under the ‘Bush-tropolis’ plan.

Agriculture, advanced manufacturing, freight and logistics are among the industries being targeted with up to 4000 jobs being promised, including for Moree's Aboriginal community.

The final precinct, Williamtown, where more than 10,000 hectares is under investigation for development., will be promoted for its strategic location next to the RAAF base, with targeted industries including defence and aerospace.

The Government has already invested $11.7 million into Astra Aerolab, a 76-hectare site specifically focused on aviation, defence and aerospace-related manufacturing, maintenance, research and education, with Daracon appointed as lead contractor for stage one civil works.

Once complete, the Williamtown masterplan aims to deliver up to 4300 new jobs.

Companies can buy or lease the land within each of the precincts, with the Government having covered the costs of connecting electricity, sewerage, roads and set up while also sorting out any environmental approvals.

To help fast-track development, the Government has also lined up 30 day planning approvals.

 

Williamstown will be promoted for its strategic location next to the RAAF base, with targeted industries including defence and aerospace.
Williamstown will be promoted for its strategic location next to the RAAF base, with targeted industries including defence and aerospace.

The catchphrases for the precincts:

Snowy Mountains: 'Australia's Alpine and Adventure Tourism Playground - Australia's Answer to Aspen'

Williamtown: 'The Future of Aerospace and Defence Industries'

Parkes: 'NSW's First Inland Port - The New Epicentre of the Nation's Freight Network'

Wagga Wagga: 'World-Class Business Precinct in the Riverina'

Moree: 'Taking Australia's Agriculture to the World'

Originally published as Barra's 'bush-tropolis': Bold plan to revamp NSW towns



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