By UTE SCHULENBERG
WITH three major building projects within metres of each other along Bellingen's main street, this looks like a country town optimistic about its future.
And any future must incorporate growth ? carefully planned and complete with community consultation.
Hence the council's growth management strategy, which has now entered its collation phase with a draft strategy hopefully ready by the end of August.
GHD's senior planner, Shaun Lawer, said the only hiccup so far was population predictions by DIPNR, which appeared to have under-estimated the shire's future development.
"That means more land may be required by 2026, but everything would still be released in a staged manner in accordance with the existing lot allocations," Mr Lawer said.
He said the community workshops had revealed the common theme that everyone wanted to maintain the existing character of the three towns.
"People accept there will be growth but they want to keep their small friendly neighbourhoods with most essential services.
"That is why they moved here originally."
He said although the plan is for 20 years, it needs to be dynamic.
"Trends do change, so the strategy needs to evolve.
"A review every five years would be ideal, but that depends on council resources."
He said over the last 10 years the population trends had been pretty stable with an average of 20 dwellings being approved annually.
"This has increased to 25 in the last five years, which is not a huge difference."
Once completed the draft strategy will be placed on public exhibition for comment.