Strategic planning is progressing to ensure the Toowoomba Region remains an attractive lifestyle destination that caters for employment and population growth that is forecast for the next 30 years.

Toowoomba Regional Council today endorsed the preparation of a new Planning Scheme at the November Ordinary meeting of Council (November 17).

Toowoomba Region Mayor Paul Antonio said the Toowoomba Regional Planning Scheme was Council’s key plan for the region’s future development and shaped many of our prized lifestyle attributes.

“Our region’s population is expected to increase by an additional 54,000 people over the next 25 or so years and it is important for Council to reshape our formative strategies that will provide clear planning policies and direction for residents and the development industry,” Mayor Antonio said.

“The new plan will ensure Council continues to meet community needs and expectations for urban land, employment and recreational opportunities well into the future; as well as aligning with state planning land use and economic development policy.

“The Toowoomba Region has many enviable lifestyle attributes, from our parks and open spaces, the special character of our rich heritage across Toowoomba city and our regional towns and our established infrastructure, that attracts people to live, work, play and study here.

“We need to plan today to ensure that these features are available and enjoyed by new residents and successive generations.

“Since the current Planning Scheme came into effect, the region has seen numerous major infrastructure projects completed, such as the Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport and the $1.6 billion Toowoomba Second Range Crossing, in addition to advanced planning for the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail and a new Toowoomba Hospital in the city’s north.

“Ongoing development and expansion plans for major transport and logistics enterprises, technology and food manufacturing businesses at the Toowoomba Trade Gateway and other centres will create new jobs and domestic and international trade opportunities. We need to have the best planning guidelines to attract and facilitate future growth and protect our natural environment.”

TRC Planning and Development Committee portfolio leader Cr Bill Cahill said the new Planning Scheme was one component of a broader program of strategic investigations that formed part of Council’s Toowoomba Region Futures program.

Cr Cahill said the new suite of work would establish a foundation plan that would determine how future growth would be managed, an infrastructure plan for servicing projected growth and a regulatory framework for guiding development in accordance with the growth plan.

“Work will progress early in 2021 and there will be multiple opportunities for the community and interested stakeholders to have a say about the future of the region. The new Planning Scheme will be prepared over four stages and is expected to be operational in late 2024,” Cr Cahill said.

“In December 2019, Council considered a report on the major review of the Toowoomba Regional Planning Scheme and resolved to prepare a new planning scheme to address the findings of the review. The review found that the current Planning Scheme had served the community well, but it could more clearly define a plan for growth along with policies that underpin such a plan.

“The review also found that the Planning Scheme needs to recognise differences that need to be applied when assessing regulation of development in greater Toowoomba (South East Queensland) and the rest of the region.

“Council will continue to develop these key strategic projects that influence and contribute to our liveability.”