Lord Mayor Emeritus of Newcastle Greg Heys’ significant planning document collection catalogued

05 May 2022

A key chapter of Newcastle’s social and regional planning history has been preserved with the completion of the Greg Heys Regional Planning Collection.

More than 1,400 documents – including local urban and rural area studies and reports, project proposals and assessments, environmental studies, and the complete set of the original coloured zoning maps for the Northumberland County District Planning Scheme prepared in 1952 – have been catalogued at Newcastle Libraries.

The archives are the life’s work of former Newcastle Lord Mayor, the late Greg Heys, who studied extensively in these fields and had almost completed a PhD thesis on Regional Governance when he passed away in 2007.

A small celebration was jointly held by City of Newcastle and the Planning Institute of Australia Hunter Branch on Thursday evening to mark the project’s completion, more than a decade in the making, acknowledging the collaborative efforts of the city’s librarians, the Hunter Planners Network, and Greg’s wife and former Lady Mayoress, Wendy Heys.

Deputy Lord Mayor Cr Declan Clausen said thanks to their tireless work sorting and processing dozens of boxes of documents, these significant items would be available in perpetuity for research and historical purposes.

“Greg Heys was a passionate and devoted town planner, working at the Bathurst-Orange Growth Centre as a social planner from 1976 to 1980, and today’s event recognises his contributions to our built form as well as Mrs Heys’ ongoing advocacy,” Cr Clausen said.

“I’d also like to acknowledge City of Newcastle’s librarians, in particular Sue Ryan, who have dedicated countless hours to this incredible undertaking.”

Wendy Heys echoed these sentiments, adding, “This collection came about through volunteer efforts, especially Len Regan’s, a transport planner with whom Greg worked at the Bathurst-Orange Growth Centre. This is also an opportunity to acknowledge the breadth of the task Newcastle Library undertook and is a fitting tribute to Greg’s dedication to regional planning.”

City of Newcastle will now explore digitising the extensive collection using its state-of-the-art archival grade scanner, the only one of its kind outside of the University of Melbourne. This will allow anyone to access these documents online.

Planning Institute of Australia’s State Manager NSW, Karen Goldsmith, said the collection provided a permanent home for planning documents that held regional significance.

“The Planning Institute is proud to have played a part in this important project, carrying on Greg Heys’ legacy,” Ms Goldsmith said.

“The Northumberland County District Planning Scheme, for example, was the first planning scheme in the Hunter Region and set the vision for the region’s growth. As far as we know, it may be the only set of these plans still in existence.”

This latest project milestone provides scope to add Newcastle and Hunter material to the collection in future.