Community to expect lag between Scone Bypass opening and Kelly Street revitalisation works beginning

SIGNAGE: A model of the signage which will appear on the northern and southern approach to Scone to lure people off the bypass once it's complete was presented on Tuesday night. The actual signage will be 4.2m x 4.2m.
SIGNAGE: A model of the signage which will appear on the northern and southern approach to Scone to lure people off the bypass once it's complete was presented on Tuesday night. The actual signage will be 4.2m x 4.2m.

WHILE works on the $137 million New England Highway bypass of Scone are speeding ahead, the Kelly Street revitalisation project has hit a bump in the road.

At a well-attended community meeting on Tuesday night, representatives from Transport for NSW (RMS), Scone Chamber of Commerce and Upper Hunter Shire Council gave an update on both projects.

They revealed that while we can expect the bypass to open to traffic by Easter this year, revitalisation works on the main street will not occur until the RMS has reclassified Kelly Street to a localised road and handed it back over to council.

This process could take between six to twelve months following the completion of the bypass, which is a cause of frustration for council, and locals alike.

On Tuesday night council's general manager Steve McDonald reassured frustrated locals they are doing everything they can, stating they would have liked to have had works on the main street well underway by now.

"Until they can tell us the level of the road and the level of the curb on the road we can't do any further detailed works," he said.

"We would have liked to have had one section of the road complete by now, and there is some frustration associated with that.

"I expect things will start to happen quickly once the handover is made."

Another thorn in the side of council is funding, with RMS having indicated to council they don't have the money to replace the concrete pavement on Kelly Street.

Council confirmed they currently have $11 million in funding for the revitalisation project but anticipated the total cost would be between $19 to $20 million and would have to be secured through grants.

The community meeting at the Scone Council Chambers was well-attended on Tuesday night.

The community meeting at the Scone Council Chambers was well-attended on Tuesday night.

Chairman of the Scone Revitalisation Committee James Burns gave an update on planning that has been done in the interim, stating approximately 70 per cent of the concept designs for Kelly Street had been completed.

"The remaining 30 per cent will depend on RMS to come through with the street and engineers to come through with our storm-water plans," Mr Burns said.

"We are also waiting on information on underground concrete, which isn't expected until the middle of the year."

He explained that the committee was made up of a number of sub committees, including one solely focused on a 'Horse Walk of Fame' which is chaired by well-known local history enthusiast and thoroughbred expert Bill Howey alongside other prominent local names such as Peter Haydon, Jill Macintyre and Dordie Bragg.

There is also a sub committee dedicated to horticulture, which owner of Potter Macqueen, Prue Robertson, is closely involved in.

Ms Robertson was part of a team that presented the RMS with a plan during horticulture works on the Scone Bypass, which the RMS adopted.

During the meeting, Ms Robertson reiterated the fact that the final version of the Kelly Street concept designs are a long way off, and that attendance to meetings is "very poor and the community really has to push this process".

"We as a community have to be more proactive, it's not all going to come from government," she said.

Mr Burns also explained that branding for the revitalisation had been solidified with a retro/Art Deco style to be adopted.

With the community coming to the realisation that the bypass is imminent, there will be a possible gap of twelve months before town beautification works start and there is not enough money in the bank, conversation then turned towards potential compensation for businesses.

Mr McDonald told those present there was no intended compensation and that the focus was on the "broader long-term benefit and continued communication with businesses".

Newly elected Scone Chamber of Commerce president Steve Guihot said "from a chamber's point of view, we would encourage RMS to get to the reclassification point as quickly as possible so there isn't a 6 to 12 month gap".

However he urged the community to brainstorm ideas to attract people off the bypass during that 'gap' such as community art, theatre, billboards, a possible 'Reclaim Kelly Street party' and dining on the footpath.

Transport NSW's Mark Cure also showed examples of signage which will be displayed on the sourthern and northern approach to Scone indicating there is an exit into town.

He also indicated they are in discussion with council regarding tourism signs, with images of Barrington Tops as the preferred option.

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