A pedestrian-friendly town centre in North Stockton and a drawcard coastal walk from Stockton to Tomaree Headland are part of an ambitious planning strategy adopted by Port Stephens and Newcastle councils.
The Fern Bay and North Stockton Strategy, which was guided by early engagement with the Fern Bay community and a workshop with Councillors from both Newcastle and Port Stephens, is a 20-year blueprint for the rapidly growing area between the Hunter River and Stockton Beach.
The strategy identifies North Stockton as the site of a future town centre and calls for new accommodation developments to support local tourism.
A neighbourhood centre to allow a smaller supermarket in the Fern Bay-Fullerton Cove area has also been included as a direct result of community consultation and will be facilitated by Port Stephens Council with a planning proposal.
Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the Fern Bay and North Stockton Strategy identifies opportunities to create a pedestrian-friendly town centre and mixed-use planning provisions that cater for diverse housing, connected open spaces and community amenities.
“Developed by both Newcastle and Port Stephens councils, the joint strategy is a fantastic outcome after a great deal of work and forms a strategic planning basis to follow along with landowners and the broader Stockton community,” Councillor Nelmes said.
“There are multiple large land holdings in the area that have potential to create positive outcomes for the community and we will work hand in hand with Port Stephens to plan for them in the years ahead.”
Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer said the decision marked the beginning of an exciting time for the residents of Fern Bay and North Stockton.
“This is a great outcome for these communities,” Mayor Palmer said.
“The creation of more housing, access to better facilities and more transport options will ensure this town truly thrives.
“It’s been a wonderfully successful collaboration between our Port Stephens Council and City of Newcastle teams, and we’ll continue to work together on the best outcomes for the Fern Bay North Stockton communities into the future.”
The strategy also recommends a ferry terminal at North Stockton, duplication of Nelson Bay Road with traffic lights at the intersection of Vardon Road, as well as other upgrades to paths, bus stops and transport.
Also key to the strategy are:
- Attracting heritage and nature-based tourism including a coastal walk - featuring boardwalks and observation decks - from Tomaree Headland to Stockton
- Improving access to useable open spaces and well-designed community facilities
- Prioritising safe and convenient travel by walking, cycling and public transport
- Growing a resilient coastal community with access to liveable and diverse housing
Last November, planning staff from both councils attended the Fern Bay Fiesta at Fern Bay community hall to provide information on the strategy.
City of Newcastle and Port Stephens Council adopted the Fern Bay and North Stockton Strategy at their Council meetings in March and April 2020 respectively. The Strategy will now be implemented in a coordinated effort between both councils, to achieve positive outcomes for the Fern Bay and North Stockton community spanning LGA boundaries.