A town square, a new library, green space and affordable housing opportunities feature in a draft plan to transform the heart of Cessnock.
Cessnock City Council will place its draft plans for development control, public domain and implementation of the Cessnock Commercial Precinct on public exhibition on May 3.
A report by strategic land use planning manager Martin Johnson to the April 19 council meeting said the draft development control plan provides detailed locality specific development guidelines; while the draft public domain plan provides a framework for public domain infrastructure upgrades.
Thirteen sites within the Cessnock Commercial Precinct have been identified as ‘catalyst sites’ due to their potential in shaping the future of Cessnock.
The catalyst sites include the TAFE campus, the former Cessnock Cinema building, numerous carparks in the CBD and the Civic Park site at the southern end of Vincent Street (next to the Railway Hotel).
These sites have been selected based on their location, size, existing and potential use, feasibility for targeted development types and significance to the context of the overall city and its vision.
A further seven sites have been identified for open space opportunities, including the section of Cooper Street between the Coles and Woolworths shopping centres, which has been earmarked as a potential site for a town square.
Mr Johnson’s report said the town square will become “the future heart of the city, bringing improved life and vitality”.
“The proposed town square will enable people to linger and add vibrancy to the city, in turn generating additional demand for retail and adding to the vitality of the commercial precinct,” he said.
Mr Johnson’s report said the draft plans provide a suite of strategic documents that provide a vision for the Cessnock Commercial Precinct – a vision that is informed by its community and users alike.
“In its absence, the future direction of the Cessnock Commercial Precinct is unknown and at the mercy of ad-hoc development,” he said.
“The documents also enable council to be proactive in seeking grant funding, rather than reacting as opportunities arise.”
Cessnock mayor Bob Pynsent said he looking forward to hearing what the community has to say about the plan.
“I encourage the community to have their say and provide a local perspective as we work towards building a thriving commercial precinct,” he said.
“Strategic planning is vital as we plan for growth in our local government area, development must be guided by a strong vision that will allows us to remain thriving, attractive and vibrant into the future.”
The project’s rollout will be funded through a combination of Section 94 contributions, government grants and general revenue.
A planning proposal requesting the rezoning of a number of sites will be forwarded to the Department of Planning and Environment.
The draft plan will be placed on public exhibition at council’s administration building, libraries and website from May 3 to June 14.