Newcastle is our city, and we all have a say in what we want it to become. With that in mind, Newcastle City Council is seeking ideas and input from across the community as they commence preparing the next Community Strategic Plan and vision for Newcastle in 2030.
Here's an exercise: pretend you're having a chat with your future self - what would you tell him or her about how you'd like life to be in Newcastle 10 years from now?
What new infrastructure will we need? How about new services? What's working well already that we need to maintain and how do you imagine the city will look following the completion of major projects like the Bathers Way, the light rail and the University of Newcastle's NeWSpace building?
It's thoughts like these that Council hopes will form the backbone of input, not just from residents but Newcastle businesses and others who come to the city regularly to work and play.
A first step might be to think about the opportunities and challenges Newcastle will face in the next 4-10 years. Then, inject the reality of budgeting, which must be applied as various projects are considered in light of available funding. If you want increased services in one area, what would you be willing to give up somewhere else to find the funding?
The CSP, known as Newcastle 2030 and due for release mid-2018, will outline our priorities and aspirations for the future. It will guide Council services and resource allocations, as well as other levels of government and private organisations.
Under local government legislation, every NSW council must update their long-term strategies every four years.
Newcastle 2030's latest iteration could not come at a more fitting time, with a raft of major projects that will transform the CBD and surrounding suburbs either planned or under way.
"We're going through an amazing period of change, innovation and improvement across the city," Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes says.
"The new Newcastle 2030 strategic plan will point us in the right direction to help Newcastle thrive and prosper into the future."
From next month, the council will undertake a range of community engagement activities, targeting all ages and backgrounds to ensure everyone can have their say.
For more information about the Newcastle 2030 plan and how to have your say, visit Newcastle Council's website at www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au
Quick Q&A with Newcastle Youth Mayor Christy Mullen
How do you see Newcastle in 10-15 years?
I hope Newcastle can get it right and embrace the change we are undergoing.
I hope that within the next 10-15 years Newcastle becomes a leader in renewable energy and a hub for environmentally friendly jobs. I hope the city has other university campuses, like Japan's Nihon University planned for the old court-house, which help bring a thriving domestic and international student life to Newcastle.
I hope that Newcastle nightlife adapts. That there are more live venues and clubs, and also "dry" spaces for some clean fun. I hope the parks and public spaces are further activated with safe and fun lighting which will help promote tourism and better use of the spaces.
What should Council's focus be over that period?
Environmental sustainability, activation of public spaces, improving public transport, supporting local businesses and providing youth-friendly spaces.
Why should Newcastle's youth have input in the Newcastle 2030 strategy?
Youth input into the strategic plan will hopefully provide Council with a new perspective they didn't think they should be considering, or more support for an idea they were previously hesitant about. Ultimately, it is young people who are impacted most by these plans.
All images courtesy of Newcastle City Council