Shellharbour City Council believes the Department of Planning and Infrastructure’s draft 20-year plan for the Illawarra is too focused on Wollongong, in particular the Wollongong City Centre.
The council’s submission, prepared in response to the department’s discussion paper, The Illawarra Over The Next 20 Years, will be presented at tomorrow night’s Shellharbour City Council meeting.
The submission takes aim at the department’s population forecasts and the methodology used and has asked for a review of these figures before the draft Illawarra growth plan is released.
Shellharbour City Council’s own detailed population forecasts predict Shellharbour City’s population to grow by an additional 11,600 people by 2031 to a total population of 79,146.
The department is forecasting an increase of 23,200.
Shellharbour council planning staff say they have ‘‘major concerns’’ that the department’s figures will be used as ‘‘specific targets’’ to meet as part of Shellharbour’s obligation to meet the region’s supply of dwellings.
‘‘Population projections should be reviewed to reflect the land subject to current planning proposals and that already zoned residential and not based on Shellharbour’s significant historical contribution to greenfield housing,’’ the Shellharbour submission said.
Council staff say the importance of Shellharbour City to the Illawarra region is under-recognised in the discussion paper and the paper ‘‘needs to identify all localities in the region, not just focus on Wollongong’’.
The importance of the Illawarra Regional Airport and the Shell Cove Waterfront precinct for employment and tourism opportunities has also been under-recognised in the discussion paper.
Last week neighbouring Kiama council also lodged its response to the department’s vision.
Kiama Mayor Brian Petschler said the department’s proposal for the Kiama municipality to accommodate 4800 new dwellings by 2031 would ‘‘destroy’’ the character of the area.
Like Kiama, the Shellharbour council cites the need to retain land capable for use for agricultural activities now and in the future.