Lake Macquarie City Council wins PIA National Award for Planning Excellence for its local sea-level rise adaptation plan

ACTION PLAN: Integrated planning manager Sharon Pope. Picture: Supplied

ACTION PLAN: Integrated planning manager Sharon Pope. Picture: Supplied

IT was a hard sell, but Lake Macquarie City Council’s efforts to collaborate with residents over three years to develop a sea-level rise action plan has won a national award.

The council’s pioneering approach to managing future sea-level rise was last night recognised at the 2017 Planning Institute Australia (PIA) National Awards for Planning Excellence.

The council took out the ‘Hard won victory’ category for its ‘Planning for Future Flood Risks: Marks Point and Belmont South Local Adaptation Plan. 

Council’s integrated planning manager, Sharon Pope, said the award-winning process saw council collaborate with local residents over three years to produce a long-term strategy and 10-year action plan to help manage the effects of future sea-level rise on their communities.

“We are now working alongside local residents and key stakeholders to implement the adaptation plan. Council recently passed changes to development controls, including building heights, filling and adaptable housing,” Ms Pope said.

“We also completed foreshore protection works in Village Bay Close that allowed for future lake level rises, and have completed a model of the drainage system in the area, so we can assess what would occur if we alter drains or fill land in different locations.”

The adaptation plan faced a bumpy passage to fruition.

Residents pushed back strongly against council’s initial policies on sea-level rise management.

But what began as sometimes heated confrontations between council and residents who were keen to defend their property rights eventually morphed into a successful collaboration.

ANXIOUS: A meeting held at Marks Point Bowling Club in 2013 to discuss residents' concerns about the council's sea-level rise policies. Picture: Ryan Osland

ANXIOUS: A meeting held at Marks Point Bowling Club in 2013 to discuss residents' concerns about the council's sea-level rise policies. Picture: Ryan Osland

Ms Pope said the Marks Point and Belmont South Local Adaptation Plan had been identified as a leading model for climate change adaptation and was included as one of several best practice case studies in the federal government’s online coastal planning guide, CoastAdapt.

“The plan allows people to live in and enjoy these areas, even as sea and lake levels continue to rise,” she said.

“Council is currently working with residents of Pelican and Blacksmiths to develop a similar plan, and over the coming years council will continue to develop plans to help manage sea-level rise in all low-lying lakeside communities of Lake Macquarie City.”

Dora Creek will be among the Westlakes communities included in the process.

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