Vital funds for village questioned

A NEW plan has been endorsed for the future of Shellharbour Village, but residents and business owners have questioned whether the ideas will be funded.

The Shellharbour Village Centre Plan features a transformation of the eastern end of Addison Street, with the current two-way traffic arrangement to make way for a one-way road between Wentworth and Wollongong streets, to be shared between motorists and pedestrians.

The arrangement would be trialled before permanent measures were put in place.

To further encourage pedestrian use and enhance views, parking at the waterfront would be removed, and markets and other forms of street entertainment would be encouraged. Parking would be increased elsewhere in the village.

Councillors passed the plan last week, but Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba said it was only a reference point for future planning decisions.

"The plan outlines ideas that the council could consider adopting to attract more people and enhance the features of the village that could in turn, stimulate economic growth," she said.

Shellharbour Village Chamber of Commerce member Angela Cramp welcomed the ideas as "pretty exciting", saying businesses largely responded positively to the measures during consultation sessions last year.

"But funding is a vital part," she said.

"We're not interested in talk, we want to see the money spent."

She said, with foot traffic dropping due to Stockland Shellharbour, businesses needed their more niche experiences supported.

"We don't want people just driving through, we want them to walk around," she said.

"I'd hate to see Shellharbour Village close down or have empty shops - we would all be diminished if that was the outcome."

Despite opportunities to comment at a community kiosk at the Shellharbour Exhibition Space in November last year, Shellharbour Village community activist Dennis Chalker said the community did not have adequate opportunities to comment on the plan.

"The council in the past have not honoured what they were supposed to be doing in relation to the streetscaping," he said.

"The council is concentrating on the hub and clearly there's not going to be one dollar for anything else anywhere - this is window dressing without funding and without funding, it means absolutely nothing."

Mr Chalker also criticised the report's reference to the Roo Theatre as the village's cultural heart when upgrades to the Roo Theatre would not occur in the near future.

"This was supposed to be redeveloped by 2015-16. That's now been pushed back to 2023," he said.

"This could be the jewel in the village crown, this could be the real centrepiece.

"It's ridiculous pushing it out to 2023."

However, Cr Saliba said the council recognised the Roo Theatre as an important part of the area's social fabric.

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