A hub for business and research innovation and a rail noise attenuation project will now proceed in Muswellbrook, as Council is pleased to confirm that two funding applications to the NSW Resources for Regions program have been successful.

Mayor of Muswellbrook Martin Rush has welcomed the announcement of $3.4 million in

Resources for Regions funding for stage 2 of the Hunter Region Innovation Precinct and the construction of a rail noise abatement wall in cooperation with the Australia Rail Track Corporation.

 

Stage 2 of the Hunter Region Innovation Precinct project forms the second step towards development of the education and research precinct in Muswellbrook’s Central Business District. This stage comprises construction and fit out of a dedicated office and laboratory space to facilitate a range of research and commercialisation activities including:

-       The International Centre for Balanced Land Use, including doctoral research focusing on food and energy security, and economic, environment and social balance.;

-       The International Centre for Environmental Remediation, focusing on the rehabilitation of mining disturbed land; and

-       Coordination of a pilot project to develop technology for sustainable production of ethanol from lignocellulosic materials (Ethtec).

The primary focus of the Stage 2 infrastructure is to build a centre of excellence for research into post-mining land rehabilitation and agricultural productivity. This project will not only contribute to the broadening of investment in research and development in the Upper Hunter and develop the potential for economic benefit from post-mining land use, it will also generate direct employment for the Upper Hunter population.

The construction of the rail noise abatement wall will address invasive rail noise along the Main North line from Muswellbrook train station to Hill Street in the town's CBD in order to facilitate economic growth and improve amenity in both retail and residential areas.

Muswellbrook Shire Council has worked closely with industry, government and the tertiary education sector towards the development of education, entertainment, and increased retail activity within the Muswellbrook CBD. The refurbishment of the Campbell’s Corner building to house the Upper Hunter Conservatorium of Music, the construction of the Upper Hunter Tertiary Education Centre, and a series of ongoing beautification works to the CBD streetscape have seen an immeasurable improvement to the town’s amenity, levels of social participation, and commercial investment in addition to the anticipated delivery of postgraduate research and vocational education programs.

Expansion in delivery of these diversification initiatives is constrained by the frequency, duration, and severity of rail noise along the Main North line, from the logistical cost of soundproofing arrangements to the ability to hold formal public and cultural events such as building openings and community memorial or flag raising activities without rail noise intrusion.

The construction of the noise wall along the Main North Line immediately adjacent to the Muswellbrook Central Business District will reduce impacts on the community and support the renewal of the CBD areas, and in turn, the Shire’s economic strategy to both facilitate current coal mining activities and to diversify its economy.

Cr Rush said:

“This funding will allow the delivery of projects to increase both local and regional opportunities in innovative business development, as well as improving the amenity of the Muswellbrook CBD and encouraging the growth of retail and café culture in the heart of town.

“The two funded projects complement the vision outlined in the Muswellbrook Town Centre Masterplan, and will allow for further progress towards the Muswellbrook community’s vision for its future.

“I congratulate the General Manager and Council’s Grants team on the quality of the funding applications. I also thank the team at Infrastructure NSW, the Department of Industry and the NSW Minerals Council for their support of Council’s applications.”

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