Port Stephens town centre works to pay off in extra millions: report

PICTURE THIS: A sketch of potential upgrades to William Street at Raymond Terrace under a mooted town centre upgrade if a council push for a rate rise wins approval. A REPORT into a Port Stephens Council plan to spend $43 million on its town centres as part of a proposed rate hike has found the plan would eventually deliver more than $100 million to the area’s economy.

The council plans improvements at Raymond Terrace, Medowie, Nelson Bay, Anna Bay, Fern Bay, Fingal Bay, Karuah, Lemon Tree Passage and Seaham if the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) approves its bid to lift rates beyond the statewide cap.

A Morrison Low business case report commissioned for the council argues the council’s spend on the nine upgrades will be multiplied in the benefits derived from it, which it estimates at more than $129 million.

The report said it focused on “the costs and benefits directly attributable to the project and project components.”It argues tourism will deliver some of the return at Nelson Bay.“The Hunter is emerging as a very strong and popular short-stay destination for the burgeoning Sydney market,” the report states. “Port Stephens currently enjoys 1,437,000 visitors a year …council data suggests that with enhanced public facilities and infrastructure, a 2 per cent annual growth could be achieved if the revitalisation works go ahead, resulting in annual benefit of around $880,000 to the Port Stephens local government area.”

The biggest estimates are from works at Nelson Bay ($15 million for a $49 million boost), Medowie ($5 million for a $16 million boost) and Raymond Terrace ($15 million for a $38 million boost).

Mayor Ryan Palmer said the report demonstrated the importance of the investment, which is proposed as part of a proposed rate rise to be sought next year.

“In addition to construction, there’s also more than $65 million in associated benefits projected to flow into Port Stephens over the next two decades,” Cr Palmersaid.“Without the additional funds from a special rate variation, we simply won’t be able to undertake the kind of transformational works that we’re proposing.”

The council has proposed four options for rates that vary from present levelsto a 77 per cent increase over the next seven years.

The town centre plans are funded under all options except existingrate levels.

Maintenance is also expressed to rise $11.2 million over 10 years.

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