Aerial of Lismore. Photo Jay Cronan / The Northern Star
Aerial of Lismore. Photo Jay Cronan / The Northern Star Jay Cronan

Lismore needs population boom to get the status it deserves

LISMORE needs to boost its population if it hopes to achieve a "regional city" status justifying more NSW Government infrastructure spending, Lismore MP Thomas George has said.

The town appears to have lost out on being declared a regional city in the Department of Planning's draft North Coast Regional Plan - which would make it first in line for major infrastructure projects - unlike the coastal growth centres of Tweed Heads, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie.

The draft plan is the "blueprint" for how infrastructure spending will be prioritised for the next 20 years - and Lismore's second-tier status in the report has angered Lismore City Council mayor Jenny Dowell.

"It's dismissing Lismore's central role (in the region)," Cr Dowell said.

"There is definition of a regional hub, and Lismore ticks all those boxes and no other place on the North Coast does.

That included being recognised as a centre for government, health, education, the law, and commercial services, as well as having an airport.

"Tweed is not a city, it's Tweed Shire Council and their office is at Murwillumbah. Clearly we can see their growth is enormous and has similarities with Coffs and Port Macquarie.

"But they are all coastal."

"The other thing about Tweed is its growth is driven by Southeast Queensland."

Cr Dowell is holding a meeting next week with the mayors of Richmond Valley and Kyogle Councils, Ernie Bennett and Danielle Mulholland about the issue, and said the draft plan "reflected poorly on them too".

They will prepare a submission to the Planning Department to argue Lismore's inclusion as a regional city.

"I am very confident that we will get regional city status," Cr Dowell said.

But Lismore MP Thomas George said Lismore was never classed as a regional city and hadn't lost any status.

He said the best way for Lismore to become the next regional city was to have a population boom.

Between the 2007 and 2011 census, Lismore's population only grew by 1.3%, compared to Tweed's 7.2%.

"To be able to achieve these sorts of things, you've got to have the growth," he said.

"That makes my job that easier. That's what's done it for Tweed and Coffs Harbour, and Port Macquarie," he added.

But Mr George said there had been no services lost from Lismore to Tweed Heads nor would there be in the future.

"Tweed Heads are independent of us… they may need services, but let me tell you Lismore has been achieving a lot more government support over the last five to 10 years than what any other area has."

"And will continue to pursue that."

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