In March, 2017, background research and analysis was commenced for the formulation of a Villages Strategy. Community engagement was undertaken, with 103 people attending drop in sessions, 74 primary school students engaged in village planning workshops and 92 written submissions received. This was an extraordinary result for a land use strategy and demonstrated the passion and proactive nature of the villages of Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council.
In order to harness and encourage this community enthusiasm it was decided that each village strategy would be drafted separately to fully gauge community reaction to proposed opportunities and identified constraints. This proved successful, with a further eleven submission received over the entire exhibition period of the five individual village strategy documents.
For the most part, submissions received during exhibition were supportive of the strategy and while there were some issues raised which were not covered in the strategy and realistically could not be covered in a land use strategy, the majority of submissions have led to the revision of the strategy. This is most notable with the inclusion of a discussion related to a possible rail trail from Gundagai to Coolac and the revision of proposed minimum lot sizes at Coolac due to the commitment to potable water being supplied to the village.
The Villages Strategy can already claim some success with a number of costed works receiving funding under Stronger Country Communities Program.
Additionally, the value of the Villages Strategy to Council’s asset planning for the future cannot be underestimated with this generational plan recommending a number of large infrastructure works such as potable water to Nangus and Coolac and a sewer for Stockinbingal. The general goodwill and connections made between council staff and the people of the villages is hopefully the start of a new era of collaborative planning and communication between the villages and the towns of Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council.