“Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above, but don't fence me in.”
So the song goes.
But it seems like Tamworthians, particularly in outer-lying suburbs, won’t be left “by themselves in the evening breeze”, as council looks forward to a more densely populated city, following a decision at Tuesday night’s meeting.
Tamworth Regional Council voted to resize lots in the Hills Plain district to the north of the city, meaning the development pattern will produce closer to 4000 lots, as opposed to the originally planned 3100.
Council believes it is responding to the demands of the market – which wants smaller lots – and the city’s population is growing.
But current residents in Hills Plain feel like council is usurping on the low-density spacious living they bought into many years ago.
Councillors Mark Rodda and Jim Maxwell agreed, recalling the lots sold with low-density as a key attraction.
Cr Rodda said council had “changed the goal posts” and voted against the move, with Cr Maxwell.
Cr Glenn Inglis said it’s “not uncommon” for masterplans to be adjusted, and council’s planning director Peter Thompson even foreshadowed more adjustments by future councils.
The most worrying part of Tuesday’s meeting was a resident on Sequoia Dr who said he didn’t know about the plan until a neighbour on Browns Ln told him. Councillors pointed out “poor consultation”, but unrest over shrinking the lots raises questions about Tamworth’s willingness to grow.
Blessed with a wet winter backed up with consistent rainfall, locals are less concerned with water restrictions, and have started thinking about how long and how many people could live off Chaffey at capacity and an expanded Dungowan Dam.
The federal water minster, our local member, Barnaby Joyce said a 44 megalitre version of Dungowan Dam would “give real security to the city of Tamworth to go to about 150,000 people”.
What’s Tamworth going to look like with nearly 100,000 more people? Where are 100,000 extra people going to live?
We want all of the services our city cousins are afforded, whether its health care, education or hospitality, but does Tamworth have the critical mass to attract more workers and businesses.