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Around the Chambers


The ten council chambers that make up the greater Hunter region continue to be busy with numerous projects to help make our communities better places to live, work and invest in – especially in light of the impacts that the global pandemic has had on our local lifestyle. Combined with local government authorities, everyone is working to make our region a better place – and for that, as residents, we are incredibly grateful.

For those who are frequent visitors to the intouch website platform, you'll know that we have continued to be a hub of information about local council projects – there’s something new to be found at www.intouchmagazine.com.au each and every day. Here's a snapshot of what's been going on in your local area.

Help Shape Honeysuckle The Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporation (HCCDC) has launched a community engagement program to seek community ideas on key outcomes for the final development of the remaining land at Honeysuckle.

HCCDC Acting Chief Executive Valentina Misevska said the engagement was an important part of the final stages of planning.

“Honeysuckle’s transformation has been a long-term project for us, and it’s important that as we approach the end of the project, we continue to focus on what the city needs and what the community wants.

“Our engagement is about seeking input from our community on how they want to see the final development in the precinct emerge, with a special focus on environmental, social and economic outcomes.

“There are just over three hectares of land remaining, and we want to ensure we are creating great places where people want to spend time, and showcase Newcastle as a smart, liveable and sustainable global city.

“We want to ensure that the future transformation contributes to the great place we live in.” The community engagement program will run until 18 October and will include a digital Ideas Wall, online survey and focus group discussion. A map of the remaining areas in the Honeysuckle precinct is available online at www.mara.mysocialpinpoint.com.au/honeysuckle-ideas

Inclusive Playspace at Newcastle Foreshore

City of Newcastle will seek support from the State Government administered Newcastle Port Community Contribution Fund to assist with the development of a multimillion-dollar inclusive playspace and water play area at Foreshore Park, with Councillors providing an in-principle endorsement of the playspace and waterplay as its nominated project for the Fund, which provides $1 million annually in grants for community projects around the Port of Newcastle.

The City has been successful with previous applications, securing more than $1 million over several funding rounds, which contributed to over $4 million in projects that have provided significant community benefit for residents and visitors.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the development of a ‘Variety Livvi’s Place’ inclusive playspace integrated with a water play area at Foreshore Park would help rejuvenate the precinct and provide additional recreational opportunities at one of the City’s premier parkland spaces.

“We have already been fortunate enough to secure $50,000 from Variety – The Children’s Charity to assist with the design of a significant inclusive playspace in the heart of Newcastle,” the Lord Mayor said.

The City is working closely with Variety as part of the delivery of the Livvi’s Place inclusive playspace, which will be designed to provide easy access, a range of play types and challenges and appropriate facilities to cater for children of all ages, abilities and cultures.

Consultant landscape architects are currently exploring several design options for the park and playground, with draft concept plans expected to be shared with the community for comment in November.

Community Signals Strong Support for Newcastle’s Night-Time Economy More than 70 per cent of community submissions received as part of a recent public exhibition have indicated strong support for a controlled trial to extend trading hours for select restaurants and small bars in Newcastle. As a result, Councillors have voted to endorse the extension of the trial from six months to 12 months.

The community was given the opportunity during September to comment on the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s proposed amendment to the Newcastle Local Environment Plan to facilitate the easing of restrictions. A total of 142 submissions were received, with 72% in support of the trial.

Twenty-four small bars and restaurants have opted into the trial as part of efforts to grow the night-time economy and support the hospitality industry’s recovery from the impact of COVID-19 related restrictions.

“This strong feedback demonstrates there is an appetite for more diverse offerings in Newcastle when the sun goes down. Our City’s night-time economy has enormous potential to grow,” said Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes.

“Our community values the benefits of a thriving nightlife, and that is a more vibrant city with increased access to businesses, jobs, services and entertainment.

“Research has also shown that encouraging a range of experiences with a wider cohort of visitors makes for a safer city at night. The intention of this trial is to revitalise the City’s economy and support a local industry that employs 13,280 people and generates more than $1.5 billion each year in economic activity.”

Native Plant Giveaways in Lake Macquarie More than 3000 free native plants will be provided to Lake Mac residents this month as part of Council’s annual Native Plant Giveaway. The event is usually held in conjunction with the Living Smart Festival in September, but the festival’s cancellation due to COVID-19 has prompted a series of smaller pop-up events held throughout the City from 6-24 October.

The events – open only to people who register online beforehand – will be held at Lake Mac Libraries branches, Lake Mac Landcare’s headquarters at Teralba and from the Rover mobile library van at multiple locations.

Landcare coordinator Jason Harvey said a range of native plant species would be available, including Banksia, Westringia and Callistemon.

“Residents who register online are eligible for two free native plants per household,” he said. “We’ll have a selection of eight species at each event, with a mix of trees, shrubs, ground cover, grasses and other seedlings to choose from. This is a fantastic way to add colour and life to your garden, as well as create habitat and food sources for native wildlife.”

Due to COVID-19 health restrictions, residents must register for a specific giveaway session time. To register for one of the Native Plant Giveaway sessions, visit www.livingsmartfestival.com or contact Council’s Customer Service Team on 4921 0333.

A Sustainable Future for Lake Mac Lake Macquarie City Council has joined the Cities Power Partnership, a local government climate network that will see Council make five pledges relating to renewable energy, transport and sustainability.

The Cities Power Partnership is Australia’s largest network of cities and towns tackling climate change. Lake Mac will work alongside 129 councils from across the country, representing almost 11 million Australians.

The five pledges will be informed through community consultation, with residents able to participate in a survey and share their opinion on which climate actions are most important for Lake Macquarie. Council’s Sustainability Engagement Coordinator Chris Harle said it was important that the community provide input on the five pledges.

“We will choose pledges that reflect what is most important to the community while aligning with the Council’s sustainability framework.”

Lake Macquarie Mayor Cr Kay Fraser said the partnership was an exciting opportunity to collaborate with other Councils and to take meaningful action on climate change.

“Environmental sustainability is very important to our community, and we know as a City we face a range of challenges in the development of a sustainable and resilient future,” Cr Fraser said. “We’re committed to identifying solutions that achieve positive and lasting change to our environment and our lives.”

The survey will be open until Monday 2 November with pledges being announced in late November. Visit shape.lakemac.com.au to have your say and complete a survey to inform the pledges.

Lower Hunter Encouraged to Maintain New Water-Saving Behaviour Level 1 water restrictions were removed on October 1st, with the Lower Hunter community encouraged to maintain the excellent water-saving behaviours that have become the new normal. The decision was a result of a combination of factors, including the community’s ongoing water savings and a significant reduction in leakage across Hunter Water’s network.

“Since water restrictions were introduced almost a year ago, Lower Hunter residents have used on average 15 per cent less water than we expected, which is equivalent to saving the water use of 52,000 households,” said Hunter Water Managing Director Darren Cleary.

“On top of that, Hunter Water’s significant investment in leakage reduction across its network has led to a further 13 per cent fall last financial year, bringing the total reduction to 34 per cent in three years.

“This is an outstanding effort by the Lower Hunter community. These results, combined with decent winter rainfall and a promising weather outlook for wetter than average conditions in spring, are behind the decision to remove Level 1 water restrictions.

“While this is welcome news, we can’t lose sight of the lessons from the severe drought and return to past water use habits. It’s important that we all continue to save now for summer and not become complacent with our water use. The severe drought demonstrated how quickly our water storages could fall during the warmer months as they have large surface areas and are prone to evaporation,” said Mr Cleary.

For more information visit, www.hunterwater.com.au/smartchoices

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