Bringing together six cities – the next steps
A 20-year vision: Strategic planning across the region and each of the six cities is focused on people. There will be one plan for the region and six for the cities. Together these plans will cover the essentials needed to deliver quality of life, whatever level of government people interact with. Delivery will be structured, governed and monitored to achieve the agreed priorities in these plans.
The Discussion Paper sets out the key ideas the Commission believes will shape the Six Cities Region. In some cases, the actions to be taken are specific. While in many cases they are complex, these actions are within the Commission’s powers and the path for delivery is clear: for example, the setting of five, 10 and 20 year targets for new additional dwellings in each local government area. In other cases, the Commission is pointing to a challenge and provoking discussion about a potential solution, but the solution is not solely within the Commission’s powers to deliver: for example, universal digital connectivity.
If we improve incrementally on our Metropolis of Three Cities, we will see specific ideas translated into plans and specific actions in plans delivered. More homes will be built. More diverse and affordable housing will be provided. New strategic centres will be created and more jobs will emerge.
However, incremental improvement will not achieve benefits at the scale envisaged in this paper. This will require a significant change in the approach to both strategic planning and delivery. It will require a paradigm shift – to mobilise all levels of government and all departments of state government, and to harness the capabilities of non-government sectors including the private for-profit sector, and the for-purpose university and philanthropic sectors.
A whole-of-government approach
To achieve this change, there will be one overarching strategic plan for the region and a plan for each city, covering all the agreed priorities. More than just collaboration is needed. True integration is required. Plans should cover the infrastructure typically included in the state’s transport and infrastructure plans, and also the key requirements for social infrastructure and other community needs.
As a starting point, the Future Transport Strategy and State Infrastructure Strategy align with the city region approach and the 2023 Region Plan, providing the basis for whole-of-government integrated land use, transport, and infrastructure planning and investment across the city region. The Commission has been working closely with Transport for NSW and Infrastructure NSW to ensure a joined-up approach.
The next round of City Plans will be more detailed than the District Plans produced in 2018. For the Eastern Harbour City, Central River City and Western Parkland City, they will incorporate and build on the Local Strategic Planning Statements and other work done by local government. In the Western Parkland City, the Blueprint produced by the Western Parkland City Authority will also be a significant input. The Central Coast, Illawarra-Shoalhaven and Lower Hunter and Greater Newcastle City plans will follow on from and expand on the plans already in place, and will also incorporate and build on the Local Strategic Planning Statements and other work done by local government.
Coordination is easier if everyone has the same priorities. To this end, the Commission will work with delivery agencies to embed the priorities and targets set out in the Region and City Plans in their key deliverables.
Since the release of A Metropolis of Three Cities, the Commission has tracked various indicators to monitor implementation. Drawing on this experience, the Commission will establish a framework for monitoring and evaluation alongside the development of the Region and City Plans.
Once the plans are in place, effective governance will be needed to oversee delivery. Specific and integrated governance might be needed for large regional and city shaping deliverables, as well as the overarching plans.
The Commission is structured to provide effective governance at the regional level. The membership of the Commission features both state and local government perspectives, as well as economic, social and environmental expertise. The Commission is supported by three Committees (Strategic Planning, Infrastructure Delivery and Finance and Governance) with the Strategic Planning Committee and the Infrastructure Delivery Committee set up to facilitate delivery and collaboration.
At the city level, the Commission will focus on city-shaping initiatives and delivery. A governance mechanism will be adopted which is effective for each city and in which the Commission will play a key role. There will be common principles – such as the need to involve state and local government, to cover all relevant areas of State Government, to include the Federal Government where relevant, and to ensure participation of community voices, including traditional owners and land councils and the private sector. For each city, the governance might vary, and it should take into account existing structures. This will build on the work already done by other state agencies, including the Department of Planning and Environment and Regional NSW. The Urban Development Program may also provide a useful governance model.
Existing Joint Organisation of Councils or Regional Organisations of Councils may provide appropriate forums which can be incorporated into the governance structure. These bodies vary in their form and function and the Commission will work with local government to obtain their views on the right model for each city. In the Western Parkland City, the role of implementing the Region and City Plans should only be what, if anything, is needed to supplement the Western Parkland City Authority.
Recent experience has demonstrated the importance of place-based governance in achieving outcomes. The Commission will continue to lead and facilitate delivery of identified innovation districts, ensuring that they meet their potential and testing and demonstrating new collaborative and integrated delivery models.
However, state government, and the Commission in particular, cannot and should not lead every place that requires coordination. The Commission’s role is to establish a network across the six cities for sharing the lessons and expertise of place-based collaboration, including innovation district governance, regardless of who leads in each place.
Join the conversation
This discussion paper is the starting point for conversations with our many stakeholders: First Nations peoples, community members, local councils, industry, state government departments and agencies, and cities experts.
The Commission will use this discussion paper to canvass these ideas broadly throughout the Six Cities Region to ensure that government, industry and community priorities inform our strategic planning.
We will gather and review your ideas and feedback, with additional processes for engagement occurring to inform the Region and City Plans for submission to the NSW Government between September 2022 and May 2023.
This will include direct engagement – online and in person – with citizens, government and industry on the Region Shapers proposed in this discussion paper, informing the Region Plan and City Plans.
Our program of engagement activities will include information sessions, pop-up stalls and workshops. If you would like to participate, sign up to our newsletter to learn more and stay up to date on when we are visiting your city.
You can also upload your feedback or submit a response to our poll or survey on the Have Your Say website.