Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) was established in March 2004, amalgamating the northern NSW shires of Barraba, Manilla, Nundle and Parry and the city of Tamworth. It is one of the biggest councils in inland NSW, with a population of over 58,000 spread over an area three times as large as the Sydney basin.
Tamworth is the regional hub, home to more than 50,000 people. Other population centres include the towns of Manilla, Barraba, Nundle and Kootingal, as well as another 17 hamlets and villages. Tamworth was the first city in the southern hemisphere to introduce electric street lighting, in 1888, and it remains one of NSW’s most vibrant regions, with a flourishing modern economy and a strong sense of community.
A spirit of community
Tamworth combines city style with a country heart. TRC operates an impressive array of facilities, including six libraries, six museums, six public swimming pools, three community centres and one art gallery. In 2010, Council commenced construction of a new $9.5 million Indoor Sports Centre. The facility will include six indoor courts, change rooms, offices, kiosk/café, gym area and corporate areas.
Tamworth Regional Council uses a unique community-centred approach to encourage local communities to participate in planning and decision making processes. As part of our community consultation and partnership program, we have established 44 section 355 committees, more than any other council in NSW. These committees are a powerful tool that gives us a direct line of communication into our diverse communities.
The committees empower local communities on issues related to their social health and wellbeing, including civic facilities like showgrounds and sportsgrounds, recreation grounds and reserves, halls, tennis courts, festivals, Australia Day celebrations and community development plans.
Thanks to an extensive set of civic, community and corporate partnerships, Tamworth has repeatedly been the proud recipient of the Friendly Towns title of the Tidy Town awards. In 2008, Tamworth won the NSW Tidy Town award, and in 2009, we received the Australian Tidy Town award.
A prosperous region
Tamworth’s thriving economy is based on a strong building industry, as well as successful retail and hospitality sectors. 2008/2009 saw recent high development levels continuing, with $215 million worth of development including $65 million worth of commercial and industrial (including rural) development approved.
Tamworth’s economy also benefits from a strong tourism sector. The area’s flagship event is the world-famous Tamworth Country Music Festival held each January, but visitors come throughout the year to enjoy the wide variety of attractions, from superb inland fishing to a range of cultural and sporting activities.
New events infrastructure includes the $30 million Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre (AELEC), which has attracted worldwide attention, and the Capitol Theatre, a new regional performing arts centre created through an innovative partnership between council, the developer and the cinema operator. The release and development of new subdivisions and residential lots has increased significantly in recent years. In 2007/2008, the value of rural-residential subdivision was more than double the previous year’s total, up to $8.5 million.
Council is also addressing the economic and social challenges facing our smaller towns and villages - including static populations and a lack of services – through the implementation of local geo-specific economic development plans.
A growing region
A key challenge facing TRC is allowing for continued growth in the area, while managing our footprint in a sustainable way. The most significant current development involves 850 hectares on the northern fringe of Tamworth city. This area, known as Hills Plain, will ultimately support a population of 10,000 – 15,000 people and planning for major new infrastructure, including multi-million dollar sewer and water systems, is currently underway.
Planning decisions are guided by Council’s Tamworth Regional Development Strategy, developed in consultation with the community, state agencies and the development industry. The strategy takes into account the need to provide a range of housing, and the shortage of developed industrial land.
The Regional Development Strategy has guided the development of the Tamworth Regional Local Environmental Plan (LEP), due for gazettal in early 2010. The LEP addresses major issues such as conservation of heritage properties, protection of infrastructure investment, strategic regional airport planning, rezoning, land use patterns, land use conflict potential and the provision of new residential lands, as well as a new business industrial park.
An accessible region
Tamworth Regional Council has the biggest network of local and regional roads in NSW, making it easy to get to and get around the region. There are more than 1,200 kilometres of sealed regional and local roads within council boundaries, as well as another 1,900 km of unsealed or dirt roads and 326 bridges.
TRC is committed to continuing to improve accessibility through the provision of quality infrastructure. In the past three years, Council has replaced eight bridges at a total cost of over $10 million. Further bridge replacements, completion of the Taminda Flood Levee project and the continuation of the Roads to Recovery Program will provide our region with additional vital infrastructure.
A sustainable region
Tamworth is a green region, in more than one sense. The council area contains around 250 separate parks or pieces of bushland. Council manages 3,275 hectares of open space, including sporting fields and Tamworth’s Oxley Park, which covers 492 hectares.
Tamworth Regional Council is also a water management authority. We operate five sewerage treatment works, seven different water schemes and six water treatment plants, as well as delivering water to nearly 20,000 connections: domestic, residential, commercial and industrial.
In 2007, Council adopted a new Drought Management Plan and Demand Management Plan, to help conserve regional water supplies.
These strategies contain sustainability measures tailored to current climatic, consumption and storage levels, as well as an overall management approach to ensure supply and environmental standards.
TRC also introduced a series of incentives and initiatives to reduce consumption of treated water supplies. The program, which will conclude in 2010, gives homeowners rebates to install water saving products and retrofit houses with water efficient appliances such as showerheads, pool covers, dual flush toilets, rainwater tanks and grey water systems.
By August 2009, we delivered almost $250,000 worth of rebates, with total water savings projected to exceed 50 million litres a year. TRC has also been working with some of the region’s biggest commercial water users to find ways to reduce their consumption.
TRC is responsible for providing efficient waste services to around 22,500 properties. TRC recently introduced a new waste services management contract to provide more services to more people in more areas across the region.
Construction also continues on the new Westdale Wastewater Treatment Plant and Effluent Reuse Farm Project. This project is the largest conducted by Council to date, and will provide crucial infrastructure to promote future growth.