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Will Grafton be a city once again?

Geoff Helisma |

A bid to revive Grafton’s status as a ‘regional city’, as opposed to its current status of strategic centre, could become clearer in September.

At next week’s CVC meeting councillors will most likely vote to receive an address by the Department of Planning’s chief planner, Gary White, at the councillors’ September workshop, “on the department’s opinion” regarding Grafton being reclassified as a city.

At the April CVC meeting councillors unanimously supported Cr Debrah Novak’s notice of motion (NOM) to “undertake an investigation to reclaim [Grafton’s] regional city status” and have the general manager “consult with NSW Department of Planning and Environment with regard to instigating a review of the decision made in 2016 to downgrade Grafton’s” city status, as a result of the implementation of the North Coast Regional Plan 2036.

Councillor Novak cited Lismore City Council’s successful bid to have its status upgraded.

The Echo Netdaily reported on the issue in March 24, 2017: “…after a strong lobbying effort by the Lismore City Council, the NSW Government has announced this week that Lismore will once again enjoy regional city status, along with Tweed Heads, Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour.”

Lismore’s mayor Isaac Smith said “we could have potentially missed out on significant recognition and consequent state government infrastructure funding” as a ‘strategic centre’.

“Now we have a seat at the table with our other three regional cities, Tweed, Coffs and Port,” he said.

At the April CVC meeting, Cr Novak said she had been “emailing to various government departments” for a year before tabling her NOM.

“If we don’t step up and comment or put in a comment we will never know what we feel as a community,” she said.

“If we are not included [as a city] we have the potential to lose funding.”

Staff will recommend to councillors that they note that “it is arranged for the Department of Planning’s chief planner, Mr Gary White to address the Council at the September 2019 workshop on the Department’s opinion on the likelihood of Grafton being reclassified as a ‘City’”.