Wollongong's Future Launched Online

This month Internetrix is excited to announce the launch of a very significant project for our home town, the Wollongong City Centre Plan. A joint project between the Department of Planning and Wollongong City Council, the plan sets out Wollongong's future over the next 25 years. The Plan is now in a public consultation period, where the public are invited to have their say before its formalisation later this year.

As a suite of four documents, including development controls and legal instruments, the plan makes up more than 200 pages in printed form, and can be a little intimidating for people without a planning background. To help overcome this, Internetrix was commissioned to develop a website that made the key aspects of the plan easy to understand. Launched by the Premier, Minister for Planning and the Mayor two weeks ago, the website features interactive maps, instant feedback and survey tools and the full plans for download.

Following the announcement of the Metropolitan Strategy in December 2005, the Department of Planning identified six "regional" cities within the greater Sydney area, where special plans were called for to encourage development and jobs. Recognising the negative social and environmental consequences of high levels of commuting into the Sydney CBD from these cities, the City Centres Task Force was established to drive coordinated plans for sustainable development and job creation in the six regional centres of Wollongong, Gosford, Parramatta, Liverpool, Penrith and Newcastle.

Wollongong is the first of the six cities to be considered by the Taskforce, led by experienced planner and former NSW Government Architect, Professor Chris Johnson. Following an extensive consultation process, a draft plan was developed to coordinate new standards for property development and civic improvement as well as regulations covering land use zones and building heights (and more).

"These plans have tremendous significance for the future development of cities," explains Prof Johnson.

"Rather than relying on printed documents - some of which are heavy going because they're actually draft laws - we wanted to extend the message and make it accessible to as many people as possible."

"We identified early on that the web was going to be an important part of this."

To make it easier for members of the public to see the key elements quickly, the website employs a number of innovations, the foremost of which is the interactive map. This tool allows site visitors to see the plan interactively, letting users zoom and pan around a city map, turning on and off layers to see proposed building heights, zones and streetscapes.

Complementing the easy to understand maps are a list of 14 "vision statements", complete with concept sketches, which outline the vision the planners hold for the future of the city. Specific and relevant, these vision statements also provide the opportunity for site visitors to provide feedback on the vision as it is presented, with real time statistics collected by Council and the Department.

Leveraging our experience in the planning arena (previously demonstrated through our ground-breaking eDA application) and website expertise, we're really excited here at Internetrix to be able to showcase an exciting future for our city.

To check out the website for yourself, visit www.planning.nsw.gov.au/wollongong, and be sure to have a look at the maps and register your opinion by voting on the vision statements.

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