NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Economy

Hunter Regional Plan 2041

Greater Newcastle is the capital and creative hub of the region. It offers metropolitan-level health, education, innovation and research facilities.

The regional plan aims to diversify employment, mining and energy generation lands. This will support economic renewal and innovation and create opportunities for new land uses.

Mining, energy and industrial capacity

The Hunter’s mining, energy and manufacturing sectors will continue to contribute to the regional economy.

However, global economic and policy influences are opening new opportunities as NSW moves towards a net zero economy. The region could be a leader in a 21st century energy and industrial economy.

This is a critical issue for the Hunter. Economic diversification is the question that all actions in the regional plan must respond to.

The regional plan considers alternative uses for former mine and power station sites. While many sites will be rehabilitated and returned to agricultural or biodiversity land, we could utilise some sites to create an economic legacy.

For example, we could re-use rail loops and hard stand areas. Voids and transmission lines could support renewable energy generation. Future uses will depend on each site’s characteristics and surrounds.

The Hunter-Central Coast is one of at least 5 renewable energy zones (REZs) in NSW. 

REZs are clusters of modern power stations that combine renewable energy generation such as wind and solar, storage such as batteries, and high-voltage poles and wires.

The REZ will take advantage of transmission infrastructure, transport links and a skilled workforce.

Green hydrogen production could reposition the Hunter as leader in zero emission energy. The NSW Hydrogen Strategy identifies the region as one of two potential hydrogen hubs. Work is ongoing to develop the hub into a commercial reality.

Read objective 1 (PDF, 48.4 MB) of the regional plan to learn more.

Download the Hunter Regional Plan 2041 (PDF, 48.4 MB).

Advanced manufacturing, logistics and warehousing

Manufacturing in the Hunter has evolved from traditional manufacturing like steel-making to advanced manufacturing. One example is the aerospace and defence precinct at Williamtown. 

The emergence of smart manufacturing, artificial intelligence and robotics, and more distributed manufacturing will further this trend.

Online retailing is increasing demand for warehouse and logistic properties to accommodate automated warehousing. We will need to plan for employment lands that respond to opportunities, technologies and a net zero future.

The regional plan, specifically objective 1 (PDF, 48.4 MB),  recognises 24/7 supply chain operations. It aims to protect the freight network from sensitive land uses such as residential areas. 

Knowledge and innovation

The Hunter’s specialist knowledge and innovation clusters attract investment, foster entrepreneurship and provide training opportunities.

The Hunter’s aerospace, equine and viticulture industries will continue to grow. The specialist capabilities of institutions like the Hunter Medical Research Institute and the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources will expand the region’s knowledge capacity. 

The University of Newcastle and John Hunter Hospital campuses provide world class-education, health and research services. Other facilities include the New Maitland Hospital, TAFEs and training organisations like Tocal College, Avondale University and Taree Universities Campus. 

Read objective 8 (PDF, 48.4 MB)  of the regional plan to learn more.

Productive landscapes

The Hunter is recognised for its agricultural diversity, including it’s 3 world-leading viticulture clusters and equine-related industries.

The agricultural sector benefits from high quality natural features and systems. It also benefits from access and infrastructure networks to markets, including global gateways at Newcastle and Sydney.

The regional plan recognises the potential to intensify and diversify on-farm agricultural activities. This could include tourism activities such as farm stays, camping, farm gates or events.

Read objective 9 (PDF, 48.4 MB) of the regional plan to learn more.

Page last updated: 23/01/2023