THE New South Wales Department of Planning last week announced it has approved the rezoning of Coal & Allied land at Minmi, west of Newcastle, allowing for the development of up to 3,300 new dwellings.
The Department said the decision, which will also result in the permanent protection of approximately 1,500 hectares of bushland, supports the Lower Hunter's growing housing needs and helps deliver a vision of a green corridor from Watagan Ranges to Port Stephens.
The new urban area is close to the intersection of the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway and Hunter Expressway, while the new permanent conservation land is on the western side of the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway.
Acting Director-General Richard Pearson said the rezoning would support the settlement of Minmi through up to 3,300 new dwellings of low or medium density and a new neighbourhood centre containing up to 8,000 square metres of commercial and retail space.
"It ensures also that about 1,500 hectares of high value conservation land will become state conservation area for the enjoyment of future generations and the protection of native animals and plants that inhabit the area," Mr Pearson said.
"This is an outcome that delivers on our strategic aims of boosting housing supply with integrated infrastructure and protecting the natural environment.''
A concept plan, which has been lodged with the Department of Planning and Infrastructure, provides more detail about the proposed new urban area around Minmi, including new schools, recreation areas and new police and ambulance stations.
According to the Department, the Planning Assessment Commission last year supported the decision to rezone the Minmi development site and the nearby conservation lands, finding that agreements and plans linked to the rezonings will protect the area's wildlife habitats, ecosystems and preserve historical and archaeological sites.
The new planning controls been inserted into the Cessnock, Lake Macquarie and Newcastle local environment plans. Voluntary Planning Agreements with the Minister for Environment and Coal & Allied have been finalised to allow the transfer of conservation land to the NSW Government.
Under the terms of the agreement, Coal & Allied has agreed to transfer the conservation land at no cost to the NSW Government within three months of the conservation lands being subdivided from the residential area.