Port Stephens Council give Anna Bay 7 Day Makeover plan tick of approval

MAKEOVER: Councillor Sarah Smith (right) with Chontelle Grecian and children Benjamin, aged 1, and Lilly, aged 5, with Next Wave members in Anna Bay.
MAKEOVER: Councillor Sarah Smith (right) with Chontelle Grecian and children Benjamin, aged 1, and Lilly, aged 5, with Next Wave members in Anna Bay.

It's the revolutionary town centre revitalisation concept that is sweeping the nation, and it's coming to Port Stephens.

For decades the community of Anna Bay has felt neglected in terms of new infrastructure, despite the town providing millions of dollars to the Port Stephens economy in tourism and to the council coffers in contributions courtesy of a string of over 55s developments.

Now the town centre - described by locals as being 'drab and tired' - is being earmarked for a $350,000 transformation as part of the hugely popular '7 Day Makeover'.

Deputy mayor Sarah Smith, who lodged a notice of motion at the August 13 council meeting calling for the allocation of funds, said that the revitalisation of Anna Bay was a high priority.

"Recent community consultation has reaffirmed that many town centres require some form of an improvement. If this program is to proceed, Anna Bay would hugely benefit from a 7-day makeover," Cr Smith stated in her notice of motion.

"The makeover is expected to include fresh, new signage, landscaping, gardens and public space areas for locals and visitors to enjoy. It is important, however, that the business community gets behind the concept. With council approval, the project could be completed before the end of the year."

Tomaree Business Chamber president Leah Anderson agreed that the Anna Bay town precinct was in desperate need of a makeover.

"Anna Bay was identified as having a disconnect with the majority of tourists seeking sand dune or beach activities bypassing the shopping village. There have also been a few businesses close down in recent times and a couple more up for sale. We want to reinvigorate Anna Bay businesses and engage with them on their level."

Ms Anderson said that in 2019 the chamber had made a decision to create business precincts outside of the Nelson Bay CBD in terms of being an advocate.

"I chose to represent Anna Bay and after hearing the passionate pleas of the community at our precinct meeting earlier this year, I am 100 per cent focused and dedicated to help this township receive much needed funding for town centre improvements."

Anna Bay Next Wave, a group that emerged from the chamber meeting and comprises residents and businesses from Anna Bay, has thrown its support behind the concept.

"The group was established with the objective of delivering positive change to Anna Bay. Rather than sit and wait, we have joined forces with other associations, to rally the community, push for funding from council, and see some real change. The community has waited patiently and it is our turn," said marketing officer Chontelle Grecian.

David Engwicht, from Creative Communities International, recently presented to the council a set of services that his company provides to improve a town's sense of place.

"Creative Communities can undertake a 7-day makeover that empowers towns to create extraordinary places by engaging the council and the community to assess a town's needs, desires and constraints before creating a scope of works," he said.

"The total process, from when a contract is signed till the makeover is complete, is usually around 12 weeks. We can guarantee a great public space at the end of this time, and the community and its residents will have participated intimately with the design and feel a deep sense of pride in what they have created."

The '7 Day Makeover' also teaches residents a new way of reinventing their town that does not involve endless talk-fests or generating unaffordable wish lists.

"The processes they learn can be repeated over and over again. We provide a makeover kit and a budget."

Port councillors approved the funding at Tuesday night's meeting.