LAKE Macquarie's nine major town centres are key community focal points, and although each has its own individual characteristics, they are an important part of what makes up our sense of community.
In June 2010, council resolved to prepare streetscape master plans for each of the nine town centres.
Streetscape master plans provide a vision for council, the community, and developers to improve aesthetic appearance, promote each town centre's personality, improve accessibility and functionality, provide opportunity for economic growth, and provide modern, easily maintained public spaces.
Some of the works that may be undertaken as part of a streetscape master plan include tree planting, bike racks, public art, paving, lighting, seating, and drinking fountains.
The first plan to be prepared was Cardiff, which was publicly exhibited late last year.
Input and feedback from internal and external stakeholders contributed to a quality document, and with $2.5 million on offer from the state government to start implementation, this will provide a great boost to the Cardiff town centre area.
There is no doubt in my mind that most of our town centres have improved in recent years and in my opinion much of that was due to ideas that came from our strategic planning, Lifestyle 2020.
That planning started in the late 1990s, informed many of the aspects of our Local Environmental Plan of 2004, and associated instruments such as our Development Control Plan.
These plans not only helped direct council with improvements in the public domain but, also in many cases, triggered new investment and better-built form.
Charlestown is the next plan set for public exhibition, with draft plans for Belmont and Toronto to be prepared during the next financial year.
All nine plans are proposed to be completed by mid 2015.
* Greg Piper is mayor of Lake Macquarie.