Port Stephens Council approve draft Fern Bay and North Stockton Strategy

WAIT IS OVER: Residents of Fern Bay and Fullerton Cove now have an opportunity to have their say on the draft Fern Bay North Stockton Strategy.
WAIT IS OVER: Residents of Fern Bay and Fullerton Cove now have an opportunity to have their say on the draft Fern Bay North Stockton Strategy.

Plans for a commercial precinct has dominated the discussion by both Port Stephens councillors and community residents following the council's endorsement last Tuesday night of the draft Fern Bay and North Stockton Strategy.

Many residents say that they cannot wait any longer for the development of a shopping centre with a major supermarket.

Councillors voted to place the draft - incorporating an implementation plan and background investigations report - on public exhibition for a period of 28 days.

An amendment proposed by Cr Giacomo Arnott noting a small number of errors and omissions in the draft and that the council supports a secondary town centre site being allowable in the study area received no support from councillors and was voted down.

Councillors instead were content to allow to place the draft on public exhibition alongside neighbouring Newcastle Council and return with an updated report after residents have had their say.

The early feedback from community has been robust.

The Cove resident Irene Lord has accused the council of using developer contributions outside the area and of not listening to the residents of Fern Bay and Fullerton Cove.

"We are an ageing community and cannot wait 20 years for the Stockton Centre to be developed," she said.

"We need a shopping centre with a major supermarket at 42 Fullerton Cove Road. This could be fast tracked in two years.

"We have a huge population at Seaside, Bayway, Palm Lakes, The Cove and the new Ingenia being built on Fullerton Cove Road. Council approved all of these developments."

Sally Johnston, from the Fern Bay-Fullerton Cove Progress Association, believes that the controversial commercial precinct issue had not been adequately addressed.

"The Strategy appears to be giving the green light to a proposal to convert commercially zoned land at the front of the Seaside development back into residential land," Ms Johnston said.

"This would leave 42 Fullerton Cove Road as the only proposed commercial precinct on the horizon for the foreseeable future. Yet the Strategy indicates that council will not support it 'as per the commercial land study'.

"We would like to know if there is any scope for the council to allow this proposal to proceed. This would provide the community with an opportunity to see the proposal in detail and make an informed decision on whether they support it or not."

Ms Johnston said that the selection of the Stockton Centre as the preferred town centre site was problematic.

"It would appear that no final decisions have been made about the site sell-off. There are no guarantees for the community that the sale of this land will eventuate in a buyer wishing to establish a commercial zone and supermarket."

She said that infrastructure omissions included no footpaths for the western side of Nelson Bay Road and no library expansion.

"$800,000 has been attached to improvements at Corroba Oval, yet land needs to be purchased off Hunter Water. Two new fields are needed along with a new clubhouse and change rooms, pedestrian crossing and carpark."

Member for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp suggested a need for significant state investment into Fern Bay Public School, which he claims is at 200 per cent capacity.

"Upgraded school infrastructure must be considered as part of any growth strategy for the area. The school has only one permanent classroom and five demountable buildings ... but it does not have a school hall," he said.

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