Decision made on Streets as Shared Spaces application
Published on 09 February 2022
At an extraordinary meeting of Council held on 8 February 2022, Councillors resolved not to lodge an application for the NSW Government Streets as Shared Spaces grant funding program, after a lengthy discussion of pros and cons.
“The project guidelines don’t feel like a good fit for what our towns really need,” said Deputy Mayor Bob Crouch, who moved the motion:
That Council note the estimated ongoing operational cost of the proposed grant application of $15,000 per annum (plus indexation) and resolve not to apply for the grant.
The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) is offering grants of up to $500,000 to councils across NSW for trial projects that test permanent changes that strengthen the amenity, accessibility and economic vitality of a high street and surrounding area.
While all Councillors were in favour of any improvements that would enhance the amenity, accessibility and economic vitality of towns – in particular Bundarra, where residents and business owners are working hard to raise the town’s profile – it was clear that limitations on the way these funds could be spent would result in ongoing increased costs for the Council and its residents down the track while failing to deliver the renewal projects that were most needed to invigorate main streets.
In accordance with a resolution made at the October 2021 meeting, Council had submitted an expression of interest to the Department of Planning for funding under the program, with the expression of interest (EOI) put on public exhibition from 24 November 2021 – 14 January 2022. Hard copies of the EOI were available for community members to review, as well as an online. A public notice was issued, information was shared to social media and included in the council newsletter, and stakeholders such as businesses and committees of council were contacted and invited to respond.
As well as in-person feedback to staff by a number of business owners, three public submissions were received, all which provided some support for an application, while highlighting some concerns.
The $15 million Streets as Shared Spaces program launched in May 2020, as a pilot to enable improvements across NSW during COVID-19 and into the future. Round 2 is continuing the aim to pilot temporary interventions that trial innovative ideas that test and build the case for more permanent changes.
Feedback from the funding partner regarding Uralla Shire Council’s EOI included the suggestion that, should Uralla Shire Council make an application for funding, that it should:
adjust its scope to de-emphasise permanent works and focus on trialling changes that reallocate road space
The feedback also suggested that Council’s application ought to focus only on one town, rather than split funding across both Bundarra and Uralla as detailed in the EOI, and it indicated that the works proposed for Uralla were more in keeping with the funding guidelines.
“Given that applications close in three days, and there’s still a lot we would really need to discuss with our businesses and communities to get a good fit, it was decided that this is not the right opportunity,” said Cr Crouch.
“Councillors would like to continue the conversation on what the community would like to see in its main streets for future funding opportunities that may align more fully with our goals,” added Mayor Robert Bell.
Mayor Bell concluded, “the decision of Council was in keeping with our focus on fiscal responsibility and only pursing grant funding opportunities that achieve the right outcomes for our community.”
PHOTO: Uralla Shire Councillors L-R Cr Doran Cr Petrov Cr Bower Cr McMullen Mayor Bell Cr OConnor Cr Crouch Cr Toomey Cr Burrows outside Council Chambers
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