THE Townsville Futures Plan, which aims to position Townsville as a city that is vibrant, integrated, connected and the second capital city of Queensland, was released last Friday for public consultation by the Queensland Government.
The Townsville Futures Plan is an over-arching plan, which is intended to provide high level state and local government framework to guide strategic and operational decision making in Townsville.
Townsville, the largest and fastest growing regional centre outside the South East corner of Queensland, has been identified as a key centre with the potential for a bigger role supporting the state's capital.
The plan stems from the Queensland Growth Management Summit, held in March last year, which focused on improving the state's growth management strategies, particularly on growth potential and vitality outside South East Queensland.
Townsville's current population of over 190,000 is expected to reach approximately 295,000 by 2031.
According to the document, the plan aims to "harness the dominant economic drivers of the area to deliver sustained economic and population growth in the region," over the next 15 years and beyond.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said the plan was not dictated by government but developed by city leaders, mapping out how to capitalise on the advantages enjoyed by Townsville.
"This blueprint positions Townsville as a vibrant metropolitan city and the key centre for economic and population growth in North Queensland – a second capital city for our vast state," Ms Bligh said.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Local Government Paul Lucas said the release of the plan is the result of a year of hard work by the Townsville Futures Plan taskforce.
"It's not just a vision, it's a plan with concrete steps for how to achieve that vision. The plan identifies a range of strategies and actions that revolve around government, the economy, industry, defence, education and research," Mr Lucas said.
Seven 'turbochargers' have been identified as catalyst actions that are specifically directed towards priority sectors that are most likely to support future growth and prosperity in the region:
- Decentralisation - including locating all public servants within the Townsville region in the CBD and identifying whole or sections of government departments suitable for decentralisation to the region;
- National broadband network roll-out – including setting up a committee to guide priorities and promote opportunities in Townsville arising from the NBN;
- Townsville State Development Area – including a detailed planning study and fast track processes to help facilitate privately owned land to be development ready;
- Central business district revitalisation – provide incentives for new development to revitalise the CBD;
- Northern Queensland defence hub - recognise that Townsville is the centre of the North Queensland defence hub and establish a joint federal-state-local advisory body to advise on the growth of this hub;
- Douglas Knowledge Precinct – consolidate James Cook University and Townsville hospital as a health and knowledge precinct; and
- Northern Queensland Convention and Entertainment Centre – continue discussions for possible development of convention and entertainment facilities within the CBD.
Taskforce chair, Minister for Main Roads and Member for Thuringowa Craig Wallace said the Townsville Futures Plan painted a positive picture of Townsville and its potential.
"Townsville has a broad and strong economy, a record of strong economic growth, excellent employment opportunities, diverse and growing industries and proximity to major projects," Mr Wallace said.
"This large population combined with nearby centres provides a large marketplace to support a range of business enterprises in the region, which means we can offer a viable alternative to South East Queensland for business headquarters."
Mr Lucas said the government will consider the report's recommendations and public comments before implementing the results in the final strategy.
More information on the draft Townsville Futures Plan is available from the Department of Local Government and Planning website at <http://www.dlgp.qld.gov.au/townsville>. Public consultation on the draft plan closes 9 September 2011.