AS THOUSANDS of people streamed through the gates for the second day of AgQuip, the state government revealed its plan to cater for population growth in the coming decades.
Planning minister Anthony Roberts chose the bustling field day to unveil the New England North West Regional Plan.
Mr Roberts said the region, taking in everywhere from Quirindi to Tenterfield and Ebor to the Pilliga, would grow by about 14,000 people in the next 20 years.
The minister pinpointed tourism, agriculture and mining as the “main drivers” in the region.
The plan will help councils prepare “local growth management strategies” which will analyse land suitability and local housing needs to direct development in “right locations”.
Mr Roberts said the government would need to be prepared to care for a growing and ageing population, where about one in four people will be over 65-years-old.
“With an ageing population we’re going to have to build different health services to deal with that,” he said.
“[And] new types of home to accommodate that ageing population.”
He thanked the mayors and council staff who contributed to the plan.
“This could never have occurred without the great work councils do each and every day,” he said.
Tamworth and Armidale were tipped as the areas to see the most growth, and Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said his electorate would be able to cater for it.
On Tuesday, Tamworth Regional Council voted to rezone a 246-hectare parcel of land for industrial use, which will hopefully include the highly-anticipated intermodal freight hub.
“Tamworth was the largest regional inland city that did not have freight rail,” Mr Anderson said.
“We’re very close, we’ve been working with council to get the private sector to look at building a freight rail centre on Wallamore Rd.
“My job is to get the funds to upgrade that rail line to make that happen.”
Mr Anderson was hopeful there would be an announcement regarding the freight development soon.
The department of planning and environment chief planner, Gary White, hoped the plan would strengthen collaboration between the region’s councils.
“Sometimes, when we talk about strategic plans, people’s eyes glaze over, but this is all about telling the story about NSW,” he said.
“It’s not just a grandma’s quilt of separate pieces of local government, it’s bringing those together in one overarching framework.”
Mr White said the main challenge for the region was making sure it took the right opportunities at the right time.