Saturday, May 25, 2024

Coffs praised for liveability efforts

Coffs Harbour has been rated Australia’s best regional city for its efforts to boost liveability.

Urban strategist and Complete Streets director, Steven Burgess, consults with local governments across Australia and internationally, and has praised City of Coffs Harbour for its determination to reimagine the local area. 

Specifically, Mr Burgess said Council has embraced public transport, building and investing in better walking paths and cycleways, and encouraged greater density in its towns and villages. 

In an article for Bicycle NSW, Mr Burgess ranked Adelaide as the best capital city, Coffs Harbour the best mid-sized city and Deloraine in Tasmania as the best country town. 

“It’s not just cycling, it’s transport in general (where Coffs is exceeding),” said Mr Burgess.

He said a standout asset was the Coffs Creek Walk, a shared path and cycleway in a leafy setting in the heart of the City. The 8.6km adventure trail links the CBD to popular tourist spots like Jetty and Park beaches and the Coffs Coast Wildlife Sanctuary. 

City of Coffs Harbour General Manager, Natalia Cowley said the No.1 ranking for Coffs Harbour will further leverage the location as a world class port of call for cyclists and the outdoors visitor sector. 

“Recreational riders are a lucrative tourist market and we have the infrastructure here – which we are adding to – to provide a compelling experience,” she said.

The Complete Streets model advocates road design for multiple users – pedestrians, cyclists, public transport and private vehicles. 

“With the Bypass, (Council might see) we can get our street back and do more interesting things,” Mr Burgess said. 

“At the very least they (Council staff) are trying the hardest to encourage change. 

“Regional cities are generally quite conservative and they hate change.” 

Bicycle NSW Active Transport Planner, Sarah Bickford noted City of Coffs Harbour’s strategy to make it easier for people to reach the places they value. 

City Planning and Communities Director, Chris Chapman says the document provides a blueprint to better walking and cycling networks, bus services, and local streets. 

“We have a goal to improve connections across the Coffs local government area so that people can readily access places of enjoyment and recreation,” Mr Chapman said. 

“It sits alongside an intention to activate public places, such as the initiative to reimagine and rethink public laneways as potential destinations in themselves which has been done successfully in cities such as Melbourne.” 

In the Bicycle NSW report, Mr Burgess praised Coffs Harbour for its artist lanes and murals, varied community and public dining spaces and walking and cycling infrastructure. 

Significant investment in streetscapes and cycleways is detailed in City of Coffs Harbour’s draft Operational Plan 2024-25 which is now on public exhibition. 

“Our growing cycleway network is reaching out across the local government area as evidenced by the new Moonee/Sapphire connection which will be a game-changer in a fast-growing urban area popular with families,” Mr Chapman said. 

Mr Burgess identified urban sprawl and the night-time economy as areas of challenge for Coffs Harbour. 

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