‘Future traffic black spot’ approved

PORT Stephens councillors have been forced to approve “a future traffic black spot”.
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A reluctant majority – all but two in the end – felt they had no choice but to approve a development application for a pharmacy on a “chaotic” and “scary” stretch of Clarence Town road in Seaham, because of fears of a legal battle if it was refused.

Deputy Mayor Steve Tucker said he had “great trepidation” in voting to approve the pharmacy, making the glib observation that it could possibly “attract some black spot funding in the future” if it caused enough accidents.

However, he said he “couldn’t see how we could refuse it” because the development complied with the council’s planning rules.

He said he didn’t want to cost ratepayers money on “another case in the Land and Environment Court that I don’t think we’d win”.

A report by the council’s traffic engineer had noted the development could “potentially impact pedestrian safety and traffic safety” if it caused cars to park on the road, but that there was sufficient parking on site to reduce that risk.

However, a number of councillors said they believed the road was more dangerous than had been advertised due to speeding.

The development was deferred two weeks ago after the owner of Seaham General Store, Janine Lasham, had objected because it was a “spot development”. She also has plans to open a pharmacy pending approval from the Australian Community Pharmacy Authority, and approval of the other pharmacy means her plans will be quashed.

■ NELSON Bay will have parking by Christmas, if the confidence of councillors is anything to go by.

Councillors have approved leasing two parcels of land in the town’s CBD as a stopgap after its multistorey car park had to be closed as a safety risk last week.

The closure meant the loss of 114 parking spaces.

A timeline is not finalised but on Tuesday councillors were confident of a Christmas opening date.

‘‘Most people thought finding a solution before Christmas was impossible but the staff have pulled all the stops out and got a result,’’ deputy mayor Steve Tucker said.

Cr Geoff Dingle criticised the staff for closing the car park, however, saying more engineering tests should have been done.