RESIDENTS could face over an hour drive to take the kids to sport or visit a community centre if Newcastle and Lake Macquarie councils aren't on the same page about a proposed major housing estate.
Newcastle councillors want a sit down with their Lake Macquarie counterparts to nut out issues like where to put public amenities paid for by the developer of the Cameron Park project that straddles the boundary of both areas.
The Winten (No 21) Pty Ltd estate would see 3300 homes, two new commercial centres and a primary school built north of the Newcastle Link Road Hunter Expressway.
Decisions on DAs across the two councils were supposed to be made simultaneously, but just this week, Lake Macquarie council endorsed a Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA) that would see it receive $22.6 million for new parks and playgrounds, sports fields and a shared pathway if Stage 5 is approved.
The DA in Lake Macquarie could move to a decision as early as December, but Newcastle's won't be looked at this year - sparking concerns future residents will pay the price if the two councils can't work together to build amenities close to new homes.
Newcastle Labor lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said a decision was made years ago to move the boundary line to the main road so that the entire project would sit in Newcastle.
"Unfortunately, an arbitrary decision not made by the elected council at Lake Macquarie, just by correspondence from the council a couple of years ago, undid that elected council's decision out there, which obviously then impacted us," she said.
Cr Nelmes said that boundary adjustment would have streamlined services like garbage collection and made it easier for residents to access services on one side of the Link Road.
"Now, because that hasn't been done, the flow-on effect of exceptionally poor, poor planning decisions that suit really just the developer and not the future residents is actually occurring right now as we speak," she said.
The state government granted the five-stage concept approval in 2013, and Cr Nelmes said those plans no longer align with what the council would want if it was built to today's standards.
She said the proposal would contribute to urban sprawl, and that with a potential 3000 new residents moving in there should be low, medium and high-density mixed-use homes on offer.
"Then, not only do those residents have the amenity of living in a new area, but they have access to a great natural environment that isn't just taken up with urban sprawl," she said.
"That is what we're fighting hard at the City of Newcastle to protect, and it's like we're having one arm tied behind our back because a strip of it is in a neighbouring council's area."
The council wants to explore joint ownership of public amenities like community halls, recreation spaces and sports fields in what Labor deputy mayor Declan Clausen reiterated wasn't a "grab" from the City of Newcastle.
"We've seen a VPA proposed that included provisions that allowed more than half of the money to be spent anywhere in the Lake Macquarie LGA, the entire LGA, rather than being co-located near where those future residents would live," he said.
"This was entirely about making sure we open up some different options to try and get a good outcome for the future residents of this area, so they have great sporting infrastructure and community infrastructure located where they live."
Development applications for Stage 1 in City of Newcastle and Stage 2 in Lake Macquarie have already been approved.