Singleton Council

A Special Offering

Nestled in the middle of the Hunter Region of New South Wales is Singleton Council, a local government area well-known for its remarkable beauty, rich culture, industrial innovation and well-earned sense of pride. Ideally situated next to the New England Highway and just a short drive away from both Newcastle and Sydney, Singleton is a must-see destination for anyone seeking to immerse themselves in the variety of tourist options that the world-renowned Hunter Region has to offer.

Singleton has a long list of features that make it special, ranging from its award-winning boutique wineries through to its booming arts scene, significant heritage sites and more. According to Lindy Hyam, General Manager of Singleton Council, it’s the community itself that truly sets the local government area apart – and that’s was what first drew her in when she was offered her current role nearly five years ago.

“It’s a great community,” she says. “It’s a strong, self-sufficient, supportive community. It has a social fabric that’s very engaging, and that’s really a strong feature of Singleton because it provides people with something more than just a place to live.”

A major point of difference for Singleton’s strong community is its growing diversity. Since Lindy joined Council less than five years ago, 20 new nationalities have become represented within the local government area’s citizenry.

Lindy also says that Singleton is a place of passionate people and hard workers, and exhibits a “really strong culture of achievement” reflective of that. Lindy reveals a number of sporting champions in both domestic and international competition have come from Singleton, including off-road motorcycle racer Toby Price.

But Singleton Council’s vibrant community is just the tip of the iceberg, she adds.

“It’s not only a beautiful area, a safe area, and a clean area, but it’s also really well located on the New England Highway,” she says. “It’s the first stop after Sydney in the sense that you don’t have to break off the highway to get to Singleton.”

“It has great access to both rural and metro offerings, so for someone living here, they get the best of both worlds,” she continues. “And for someone who’s visiting, they can package a holiday that includes the coast, metro and the rural environment. It’s a really special offering.”

In the Heart of the Hunter

Singleton Council’s location in the centre of the Hunger Region makes it the perfect home base for tourists looking to make the most of their trip. The region is particularly famous for its wineries, vineyards and cellar doors, attracting wine enthusiasts from across the globe.

Not only does Singleton Council provide easy access to nearby areas where tourists can embrace the entirety of the Hunter’s food and wine scene, it also boasts a number of its own internationally-acclaimed sites. Singleton plays a key role in the Hunter Valley Wine Show and hosts a variety of events showcasing the best that the region has to offer in terms of locally-grown food and wine.

In addition, Singleton Council is currently in the process of developing a significant cycling route that would provide cyclists with access to local vineyards. Council is delivering the $16 million project in partnership with a neighbouring council who also sees cycling as a key component in the future of tourism to the region.

Even more, Singleton draws in many tourists looking to experience the region’s rich heritage background. The local government area is home to several noteworthy historical sites such as the Singleton Sundial, one of the largest sundials in the world, and the Convent of Mercy, one of the oldest convents in the country – and one that features a beautiful chapel that’s used for weddings, concerts and other posh events.

Singleton’s heritage offering also includes the Singleton Historic Society Museum as well as the Royal Australian Infantry Corps Museum, which Lindy notes is particularly popular amongst visitors.

Additionally, Singleton Council offers a range of top-notch rural pursuits including camping, kayaking, boating and fishing at Lake St Clair, a site that recently hosted a B.A.S.S. Australia Nation Series bass fishing event.

Visitors can also immerse themselves in Singleton’s “very strong” artistic community, which is ripe with a variety of cultural events such as the Coal and Allied Singleton Art Prize, a major annual event and one of the largest country art shows in New South Wales.

Unsurprisingly, the tourism market has responded to Singleton’s dynamic offering. Case in point, Council recently ran a digital advertising campaign that promoted Singleton as a family destination and showcased its great accessibility to the rest of the Hunter Region. Impressively, that campaign has already reached 65,000 full views on Facebook and YouTube, leading to 163,000 new visits to Singleton’s website since commencing in December.

An Innovative Community

Whilst Singleton Council is undoubtedly an extremely desirable destination to visit, it is also an equally desirable place to do business. The local government area has a track record of innovation that reverberates throughout the entire community, and it is known for employing cutting edge technologies and techniques across all sectors to maximise productivity and safety.

A prime example of Singleton’s commitment to innovation is the Singleton Solar Farm. The 407 kilowatt solar farm was built back in 1999, making it one of the first of its kind in the entire country, and it has been vital to the development of the solar industry throughout the region.

Singleton’s ideal location also makes it an extremely appealing destination for businesses looking to expand or relocate. The local government area enjoys excellent access into the broader metropolitan centres of Sydney and Newcastle, with the latter also providing Singleton with access to open waters via the Port of Newcastle. In combination with Singleton Airport, these points provide the local government area with substantial reach to both international and domestic markets.

Moreover, local businesses in Singleton benefit from Council’s pro-business agendum. Lindy indicates that Singleton Council works very closely with an array of business networks including the Singleton Chamber of Commerce, the Hunter Business Chamber and the Hunter Research Foundation, just to name a few.

Those businesses also have access to a “good, available, young and vibrant employment scene,” which is a by-product of Singleton’s strong educational institutions.

“Education, technology, innovation, business support, access to ready markets – and affordable space, too,” Lindy says, counting down some of the many reasons business is attracted to the region. “It’s very affordable to come and set up here compared to being in the metro environment.”

“And when the National Broadband Network comes onboard here, there will be a whole world of possibilities,” she adds.

Changing for the Better

Since Lindy joined Singleton Council, she has seen the area “change enormously” in a variety of ways.

To start, she points out that the local government area is evolving and experiencing a transition in terms of both its economic focus and, subsequently, its demographics. Singleton has historically had a strong agricultural base with a moderate presence in mining up until the mining sector boomed between 2008 and 2012. In the past three years, however, the mining sector has died down, and Singleton has since shifted its focus into other industries, chiefly tourism and manufacturing.

That change has had a direct effect on the composition of the community. During the mining boom, housing prices also increased substantially in response to the high demand of workers relocating to Singleton to capitalise on the mining opportunities. Now that the housing market is no longer subject to those peaks, prices have stabilised, attracting younger families and newly emigrated citizens to the area.

The local government area has also changed significantly in terms of development. For example, Council has revitalised Singleton through both its CBD master plan as well as its town centre master plan.

The former delivered works to stimulate business growth, boost traffic efficiency and provide additional high-density residential living in the CBD, in addition to other improvements. The latter, meanwhile, rejuvenated the town centre by providing new pedestrian lanes, enhancing existing foot traffic routes, modernising its amenities and adding new gardens that feature more than 70 new trees and 2000 new plants, which are maintained via state-of-the-art sustainable technology that utilises stormwater harvesting.

“Those projects have given the town a very modern, industrial look that really differentiates Singleton from anywhere else in the Hunter, and I believe anywhere else in New South Wales,” says Lindy.

Then there’s the brand new $60 million Singleton Square retail centre, which has “completely repositioned the shopping experience for the town.” The centre was designed by architect Scott Carver and developed by Charter Hall, and covers 21,142 square metres of gross land area with more than 40 retailers and over 900 car park spaces, making it the largest of its kind in Singleton.

Council has also recently delivered a $5.9 million upgrade of Singleton Gym & Swim to reflect its “huge emphasis on healthy living.” Works included the extension of its existing gym facilities and car park as well as the addition of a new hydrotherapy pool, spa and spin studio.

Those are just some of the exciting projects Singleton Council has rolled out since Lindy came on board nearly five years ago. In total, Council has completed about 20 major projects in that time – a big change from averaging just “one project every five to ten years” previously.

In the coming years, Council will continue to do its part in helping the local government area adapt to the changing economic landscape in order to help create a “strongly integrated community.”

“The long-term vision is helping the rural and the local economy to transition away from mining domination to a strong, thriving, innovative, diverse and dynamic economy; one that has strong community partnerships, strong emphasis on innovation and a strong emphasis on heritage, culture and tourism in order to build on our strengths,” Lindy says.

One way Council has already helped to achieve that transition is by linking its strengths together to work synergistically, such as showcasing the area’s high-quality local food and wine at the annual arts festival. Council is also looking at ways to strengthen Singleton’s “industry clusters” in the health, education, manufacturing, retail and technology sectors, whilst collaborating with its smaller local villages on a master plan that would build their profile and develop “an exciting vision for their differentiation and future growth and sustainability.”

“I think that our future is going to be based on being a diverse community, and one that’s integrated in a way that we build on the strengths of the whole region,” Lindy concludes.

Short URL: http://www.businessworld-australia.com.au/?p=4817

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