The Department of Planning & Environment has put on hold a proposal by the Port Stephens Council to rezone 620 hectares of rural land for urban development at Wallalong in the Port Stephens local government area.

Port Stephens Council had sought approval to prepare an amendment to its local environmental plan to rezone the land for urban purposes to facilitate more than 3,000 new homes. The Council has been advised by the Department to undertake further strategic work including addressing infrastructure requirements and funding mechanisms, environmental constraints and residential supply and demand prior to resubmitting a new planning proposal.

The Department, after careful deliberation has found that this key work should be carried out prior to any further consideration. According to the spokesperson, the planning proposal also pre-empts the strategic work being carried out on the draft Lower Hunter Regional Growth Plan, which will guide planning in the region and inform decisions on service and infrastructure delivery.

The Department will continue to work with local governments across the Lower Hunter to increase land supply to accommodate growth. Since 2009 this work has resulted in new residential zoned land capable of accommodating more than 35,000 new lots.

The department identified that any future planning proposal for Wallalong will need to address the ability of Council and the State Government to service other land release areas that have already been rezoned.