Fern Bay is growing and residents have labelled plans for a new hall a win, after 18 months of negotiation on the details.
The expanded facility will include an office for the tennis courts, a kitchen, reception desk, toilets, sprung dance floor and various storage rooms.
Built from section 94 developer contributions even the car park – with 20 car spaces – will be sealed and the whole landscaped.
“We haven’t quite doubled in population but we’re one of the fastest growing areas in the Hunter,” Fern Bay Fullerton Cove Progress Association chairwoman Sally Johnston said.
“[So] we are very happy with the outcome for the replacement hall and that council has recognised the need to fund it appropriately and include the car park and landscaping in the project.”
Initial plans would have left the community with a very similar sized hall to the one that’s to be knocked down, despite its growing popularity including as a venue for before and after school care.
Between 2011 and 2016 the Fern Bay-Fullerton Cove area grew 173 per cent, Census data revealed, with more than 3300 people now in the area.
With the rapid growth of Sea Side and Bay Way developments there’s already an extra 1000 residents now estimated to call the area home.
“There’s close to 4500 people in that area... and very little infrastructure,” Cr Geoff Dingle said last Tuesday, when the council passed the plans.
“The initial design was underdone but we’ve now got a design that’s integrated very well with the play ground and car park. The council staff has been excellent in working with the community.”
Access to the tennis courts, playground and mobile library will continue uninterrupted while the council builds the new facility.
The hall’s booking officer Tony Tindall said the hall would be a welcome change.
“It’s the biggest thing to happen to Fern Bay in a long time,” he said.
“It’s a small thing but not having to go outside to use the toilets will make a big difference.”
The hall’s committee members remain hopeful the council will make provision for a fence under the budget.
Early estimates for the hall placed the cost at $800,000. The plan seemed under threat when Port Stephens Council sought to borrow S94 contributions to fund work in Medowie.