LITHGOW has turned the corner as a good choice as a regional community and is rapidly shaking off some of the negative images of past generations.
This is the view of Westfund CEO Grahame Danaher who says he has seen an emerging trend where Lithgow is becoming more and more popular with people seeking a treechange from the congested coastal areas.
And it’s a view shared by the CEO of the Real Estate Institute of NSW, Tim McKibbin.
Mr Danaher said the changing trend was particularly noticeable with Westfund, one of the district’s biggest employers of office and professional staff.
“Until not that long ago we would never get job applications from outside the Lithgow district or Blue Mountains,” Mr Danaher said.
“Now we receive a lot of response from people around Sydney seeking to relocate.”
He said the changing attitudes had become evident with the huge demand for retirement village properties in the district — at Bowenfels and Wallerawang.
But the change was now rapidly gaining pace.
“The people who contact us say they have ‘discovered’ our area after decades of negative publicity from lasting images created decades ago,” Mr Danaher said.
“At Westfund we’re very confident of the prospects of our home community.”
This was reflected in the fact the not-for-profit health insurer recently purchased the former Commonwealth Bank premises in Main Street to cope with expansion.
An architect is currently working on plans for the major redevelopment of the three storey building.
“We’re confident this program will represent a major facelift for the CBD streetscape,” he said.
Mr Danaher said there were ‘prophets of doom’ in the community who claimed Lithgow was in decline.
“The people we deal with see it far differently.
“They’re impressed by our Tidy Towns credentials, our expanding educational facilities including the two new university colleges, our natural environment and what we have to offer for all sporting and recreational interests,” he said.
The presence of the prestigious Emirates Wolgan Valley resort had also done much to change the perceptions.
“The people talking down our community, unfortunately including some in Lithgow council, need to be talking up our district at every opportunity,” he said.
Mr Danaher is not the only high profile figure singing our district’s praises.
In an article in the Sydney media last week Tim McKibbin, the CEO of the Real Estate Institute of NSW, said this:
“Previously described as an industrial centre, in more recent times Lithgow has been recognised as a desirable residential area, offering a unique country escape at a convenient distance from Sydney.
“Attractive new urban residential estates are scattered throughout Lithgow and Wallerawang.”
Mr McKibbin echoed the voice of many others when he expressed the hope the Zig Zag Railway would soon be returned to duty.