An Inside Look of the August Strategic Planning Workshop

On the 8th of August I was invited to attend the Wagga Wagga City Council’s half day strategic workshop to contribute to the next 20 years of planning in the City. This was in regards to recreation and open space, community facilities, tourism, job growth, neighbourhoods and commercial precincts.

As we were placed in groups of 6-8 people, we were invited to contribute on these different key themes as Council finalises the draft of the Recreation and Open Space Strategy and Activation Strategy for the City. These are really important times, because these documents will guide the direction of our City over the next 20 years. 

I was thoroughly excited by the diversity of people from all different backgrounds in the room. On my table this included people from the disability sector, real estate industry, property development industry and key council staff. 

In regards to the direction of neighbourhoods in the future, my contributions were centred around the theme of connection and wellbeing. This is in regards to how we design our neighbourhoods to promote a healthy and active lifestyle and sense of belonging, at the masterplanning stage. 

This includes the design of our parks and connectivity linkages within neighbourhoods, to promote a walkable suburb, including cycling. But, it’s also about ensuring that our neighbourhoods connect with each other and integrated in their design so that the facilities from each neighbourhood can be easily enjoyed by all. By creating spaces where people can come together, this is where connections can be made, memories can be made, children can connect more with children and everyone gains a greater access to a healthy and active lifestyle. From there, the benefits go on to mean a more-safer, well connected and healthier neighbourhood.

I advocated for Central well planned Park areas, that are well linked with footpaths through the area, that cater for all ages and are inclusive. With rising mental health issues and given Wagga Wagga was recognised for it’s rising obesity levels in the media recently, I believe that as Property Developers and Council, we do have a role to play in ensuring that we build our neighbourhoods to facilitate a wellness lifestyle where we can, that support us in becoming the best versions of ourselves. 

One of the main items that keeps coming up as I attend these workshops, is jobs. Over the next 20 years we anticipate an additional 20,000 people to be living within Wagga, which means that an additional 12,000 jobs are required. Yes, Wagga’s a great place to live – but do we have the jobs to also cater these new people coming to Wagga?

This was a discussion point, as we also discussed the future industries that could assist in creating these jobs required. Health care industries were discussed as an opportunity to leverage off the 420 million dollar hospital development. Innovation was also a hot topic. 

Throughout this workshop, other areas I also commented on included the CBD precinct and mix of development – commercially and residentially through here, open space areas in the City, the vision and identity for the City, lot sizes, neighbourhood design processes, commercial precincts and more. 

I thrive in an idea think tank like this – I threw in a lot of different areas including entrepreneurial communities, how to support the next generation of youth thriving in our City, how we can best transform current and future facilities to showcase the history of our City (which could be a themed Park strategy) and also create spaces which are an invitation to experience the cultural diversity of Wagga.

There were some big ideas shared by all and guess what, Council were listening!

I left this workshop feeling very excited about the open and transparent manner that Council ran this workshop. It was very clear that they were walking their talk in terms of bringing industry along this journey of strategic planning for the City with them. It has also been evident throughout this process, that they are taking on this feedback and incorporating this in their plans where they can. 

So, what will our City look like in 20 years you might be thinking? Here’s the vision that’s been set… 

In 2040 Wagga Wagga will be a thriving, innovative, connected and inclusive community on the Murrumbidgee. Rich in opportunity, choice, learning and environment, Wagga is a place where paths cross and people meet.

With over 3000 submissions to the recent Community Plan for City, it’s also clear that Wagga residents want to have a say – and I see there being no better time to do this than now. Gone are the days to think that we have to be an elected member, be a councillor, a board member, or a position of power of some sort to be heard – this is your time to have your say in the City’s strategic documents that will shape the next 20 years of our City. 

This is an exciting time. 

These documents will be going before Council in October/November. These documents are the guiding documents that will support future strategic plans for residential development, including our Overall Development Plan.

Do you have comments on the above themes or ideas you’d like to share? Why not send me an email Samantha.brunskill@brunsleapark.com.au

 

Planting Seeds with Sam blog post,
written by Samantha Brunskill

Willow Jayne