Novak's push for Grafton to get strategic growth and funding
Novak's push for Grafton to get strategic growth and funding

Council's fight to 'win back' city status

CLARENCE Valley Council will be asked to try to win back city status for Grafton lost in 2016.

On Tuesday Cr Debrah Novak will present a notice of motion to the council's environment, planning and community committee meeting requesting council investigate recovering its "city status" stripped from it when the North Coast Regional Draft Plan 2036 was released in 2016.

The State Member for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis, then the Parliamentary Secretary for the North Coast, signed off on the plan.

The plan was the NSW Government's 20-year economic blueprint for the North Coast and stripped city status from both Grafton and Lismore, relegating them to so-called strategic centres.

Coffs Harbour, Tweed Heads, Armidale and Port Macquarie remain designated as cities.

Lismore did not take its relegation lying down and was able to overturn the decision.

When the final North Coast Regional Plan 2036 was launched in March 2017, Lismore regained its city status while Grafton remained without it.

Cr Novak's NOM said Grafton risked missing out on future strategic growth if it did not regain its status.

"Not applying to have the city status-reviewed means Grafton and the Clarence Valley will possibly miss out on funding for future strategic growth," it said.

"Lismore, Coffs Harbour, Tweed Heads, Port Macquarie are currently having their city infrastructure plans developed."

Grafton and Lismore were proclaimed as cities through different legislation.

Grafton gained its status through the Crown Lands Act in 1885 but Lismore's came in 1946 through the Local Government Act.

Grafton clearly was proclaimed and gazetted a city on the same day as Sydney, Armidale, Newcastle, Bathurst and Goulburn. This city status has never been repealed.

Cr Novak argued that much has changed for Grafton since State Government planners formulated the plan.

Planners defined regional city centres as those with the largest commercial component of any location in the region and provided a full range of higher-order services, including hospitals and tertiary education services.

Strategic centres, on the other hand are defined in the NCRP as centres of regional strategic importance.

"A lot has changed for Grafton since the 2016 plan was drafted with a new country university centre, a future upgrade of $263million of Grafton Hospital and Australia's largest prison as an employment generator," she said.