Building a Modern Connected City – Armidale Dumaresq Council

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Armidale Dumaresq Council is committed to the future growth of Armidale and surrounds with the a vision of key initiatives that together build a modern, connected city and region over the next 20 years.

What is the Armidale Master Plan?
The goal of Armidale Dumaresq Council’s Master Plan is to identify the key initiatives that together will build a modern, connected city and region over the coming 20 years. The Master Plan will direct the energy and resources of Council to meet the needs of the community, drive sustainable growth and achieve the aspirations contained within the Community Strategic Plan.
The CREATE2350 Master Plan will anticipate future needs and provide a comprehensive framework for Armidale City and its rural surrounds. The Plan will consider the importance of the New England region and will provide clear strategies to guide future investment and development. While not a plan to drive growth, the inevitable transport, housing and business growth pressures will be planned for and accommodated.

How is the Master Plan being developed?
The Master Plan is an inclusive process of research, workshops, community engagement and collaboration. Community consultation is an important component of the plan’s development, and the following three part approach has been adopted:
IDEAS: inform, engage and collaborate with experts, individuals, businesses, groups and the wider community to ensure that the very best ideas and options have been identified for each key project
PLAN: establish a Master Plan that reflects the community’s vision and informs all strategic plans of Council.
CREATE: identify timelines for implementation of projects and delivery of strategic plans – to achieve our vision.
Because of the broad scope of the Plan and the time required for its development, a staged approach has been adopted. A number of major themes have been identified, which range from transportation to the arts, to sport and recreation. Within these major themes, 15 in all, specific projects have been identified. For example, Armidale Regional Airport is a project under the Transportation theme, and the Dumaresq Dam upgrade is part of the Sport and Recreation theme. At the conclusion of the planning process, these themes and projects will be combined into a single plan.

What projects have been undertaken so far?
The first project undertaken was a review and planned upgrade to the Armidale Regional Airport. The airport is a significant asset of Council serving the New England region, providing aviation services for passengers, air freight, aircraft maintenance, emergency services and general and private aviation. The airport also supports established and growing sectors within the regional economy; including education, the visitor economy, agriculture, business development, sporting and leisure activities.

What is proposed as a result of this Master Plan review?
Airline passenger movements have grown to over 120,000 per year, exceeding the comfortable capacity of the current airport terminal. With further growth and new routes anticipated in coming years, a substantial upgrade to the terminal and car parking facilities is planned. Major elements of the terminal upgrade include improved check-in facilities, installation of baggage handling carousels, expanded passenger lounge and the potential for baggage and passenger screening. Passenger screening will allow for larger sized aircraft to fly in and out of Armidale, increasing capacity and improving passenger comfort. Upgraded food and beverage services and a retail area will also add to the overall passenger experience.
While air transport is the primary activity at the airport, there also exists the opportunity to further diversify Council’s property portfolio. Armidale is fortunate to have a number of well established aviation businesses, ranging from jet charter, aerial fire fighting, to scenic flights and engineering and maintenance operations. It is planned to further develop land for aviation use.
Each lot will be served with both road and taxiway access to the runway and air-side facilities. It is hoped that aviation businesses being squeezed out of city airfields will be attracted to Armidale, encouraged by competitively priced land and attractive financing.
To take advantage of the 8,500 vehicles that travel the New England Highway each day, a Highway Service Centre is planned, offering fuel, a convenience store, fast food restaurant and traditional dining facilities. With ample parking facilities, a Transport Museum is also to be located adjacent to the Service Centre, together with a Visitor Information Kiosk.
To ease the pressure for industrial land, a major land development is planned, totalling 95 hectares when fully developed. Spanning the New England Highway, a business park, commercial and industrial lots are to be developed to attract new business and create jobs within the New England region. Looking further into the future, a new runway to support larger aircraft and the growing air-freight operations from the airfield is planned.
Together, these activities will diversify operations within the airport precinct; attracting new businesses and generating jobs within the region.

Have any other reviews been completed?
Within the Sport and Recreation theme, a plan for the upgrading and further development of the Dumaresq Dam nature park has been completed. Dumaresq Dam has been a popular destination for locals and visitors to the region. It’s planned that camping, currently suspended at the Dam, will be restored, with improved amenities, an upgraded play ground and modern BBQ and picnic facilities.
The planned introduction of holiday cabins will further add to the ability to enjoy the natural attractions of the dam – walking and jogging trails, water sports, mountain biking and swimming.

How can community members participate in the Master Plan process?
A dedicated website is available, where information on all active projects can be viewed and commented upon. Social media is also available, and a series of exhibitions and displays will be held throughout the New England Region.

Interview with Tony Broomfield.

This article was from issue 99 of New England Focus.

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