While Merimbula might be the premier tourist destination in the shire, the Bega Valley Shire Council has relegated it to the last of the four urban centres to receive an upgrade of its CBD. It has circled a 2018/19 date for the $1 million works. Eden gets first posting with a $500,000 upgrade in 2013/14, Bega, second 2014/15 ($1 million), and Bermagui third, 2016/17 ($500,000).
This kernel of information came to light in a report titled, CBD Masterplans, presented to council’s Wednesday January 16 authored by general manager Peter Tegart. Interestingly, it generated no debate among the councillors. The recommendation, “That requests for proposal be sought from suitably qualified persons or organisation for the preparation and consultations for the four CBD public domain masterplans,” got the rubber stamp and that was that.
The preparation of master plans for the four urban centres will take a year and a consultant’s fee of $100,000.
To think that Merimbula will be the subject of more council plans as the report indicates, may strike a cynical response from some of its longer term residents.
Over the last 30 years it has had plans enough to paper the entire walls of the Bega Council headquarters and at considerable expense to the ratepayers given they were all kicked into the long grass.
According to Mr Tegart’s report council has worked on a number of strategies and structure plans in recent years to guide the preparation of the new Local Environment Plan (LEP) and Development Control Plan (DCP). Concurrently, asset management plans (AMP) were prepared for key infrastructure groups, in turn guiding funding priorities in the Long Term Financial Plan (LTFP).
Similarly, traffic and car parking strategies have shaped where vehicular and pedestrian traffic will be focussed in Merimbula and soon, Bega, Mr Tegart said.
The proposed 2017 bypass for Merimbula will alter the traffic type and loads through the CBDs, permitting consideration of pedestrian friendly streetscapes in the CBD, he suggested
More recently, development contribution plans (s94/94A) have been under review, with works schedules from asset and facility management plans forming part of the cost base for those contribution plans.
Increased revenues from development contributions are a feature of the LTFP to provide for renewed and upgraded assets, the report said.
“Indicative of that thinking, council assigned $3m in the LTFP towards CBD public domain works in the main towns in the 10-year term of the LTFP, notably following completion of bypass works. That funding is anticipated to attract grant funding and financial or collaborative assistance from property owners to their shop frontages to accord with the town themes.”
Mr Tegart said that discussions had commenced with Essential Energy to coincide undergrounding of power and introduction of energy efficient lighting into CBD main streets. Council recently signed an agreement with Essential Energy, in exchange for renewable energy certificates, to commence the progressive installation. Some trials have commenced in Bega, he said.
Council’s Land Investment Strategy also proposed ‘creation’ of publicly lettable space as a result of those CBD works, to cater for outdoor eating, retail or cultural display, through widening footpath/blisters or creation of squares.
“The CBD public domain masterplans, and subsequent progressive works during the life of the LTFP (subject to grants and development contribution funding), will improve access and visual aesthetics, enabling those centres to be attractive to visitor and residents, in turn increasing lifestyle and retail activity in the CBDs,” Mr Tegart said in the report.
“The masterplans should encourage integration of larger scale commercial developments in the CBDs with the proposed public domains. The masterplans may be augmented by more detailed landscape plans where appropriate.
“It is considered timely, in advance of those CBD works, to schedule the preparation and consultations with chambers, community and state agencies (such as NSW Lands as a key landholder) for the four main towns.
“The brief would encompass the Liveable theme strategic actions of the Delivery Plan.
“Scoping the works for those plans can then be merged into the development contribution plans, and be available for government grants as they become available.
“The town themes can be carried through DCP and other development control,” the report concluded.