Widening footpaths and closing streets to vehicles on weekends are just some of the ways in which we can encourage more people to visit our town centres, according to Member for Gosford, Liesl Tesch.
Tesch is encouraging residents to come up with ideas to transform local streets into shared public spaces as part of a new program from the State Government to increase places for people to safely walk, cycle or exercise.
She said the new $15M Streets as Shared Spaces fund will support councils to implement pilot measures to increase public space and allow for easier social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“So many locals have given up the commute to Sydney and fallen in love with their neighbourhoods and public spaces again as we adjust to this new life with social distancing and self-isolation,” Ms Tesch said.
“It’s made us realise just how lucky we are to have the environment and lifestyle we have on the Coast.”
Tesch said many areas on the Coast, such as the Woy Woy Peninsula, could make perfect trial areas for new public space programs, particularly those towns with flat terrain, cycle-paths, and local shops.
“There are so many small things that can be done to make our community healthier, encourage walking and make it easier to maintain social-distancing – such as widening footpaths or closing a street to vehicles on weekends,” she said.
Tesch is asking residents to send in their ideas for what could be done around their area or town centre to encourage better use of public spaces.
“Getting the views and ideas of the community is important so Central Coast Council knows what changes people want to see and will use,” she said.
“I’d encourage everyone in the community to think creatively about what small changes we can make that will make the Coast an event better place to live and move around.”
Improving walkability around our town centres will also be an added benefit for business owners, Ms Tesch said.
“We have all had to stay away from our favourite coffee shop, or lunch spot, but this funding program will bring back the life to our high streets.”
Councils will be able to apply for grants of up to $100,000 for short-term, quick response projects, such as widening footpaths and temporary cycle lanes, and up to $1M for longer-term projects, such as changes to road alignments and widths and trialling lower speed limits.
Residents are encouraged to email their ideas to Ms Tesch at Gosford@parliament.nsw.gov.au and these will be sent as a submission to Central Coast Council.
Councils can apply for Streets as Shared Spaces grants until June 30.
Media release, May 14
Member for Gosford Ms Liesl Tesch