Hunter Business Chamber CEO Bob Hawes weighs in on Scone's future post bypass

NEW INFRASTRUCTURE: The New England Highway Bypass of Scone in February 2020.
NEW INFRASTRUCTURE: The New England Highway Bypass of Scone in February 2020.

A NUMBER of exciting possibilities await Scone's CBD with the opening of the new $137 million bypass.

You only need to look at nearby centres such as Greta and Branxton for inspiration.

In 2014, the unveiling of the Hunter Expressway was tipped to sound the death knell for those small towns.

However, six years on and it's far from the case with the proximity of new development, in particular Huntlee, playing a big role in helping support these areas.

While the impact on businesses varied, some capitalised on the improved environment within the towns, with cafes taking advantage of outdoor footpath dining opportunities.

The local chamber, Central Hunter, was also proactive in working with the council to identify and advocate possible ventures.

They pushed for initiatives such as a free RV campsite in Branxton, which brings a lot of travellers into town, and the Branxton Greta Memorial Cycleway, which will potentially be an attraction for visitors as well as a great facility for locals.

While Scone faces similar challenges with the arrival of its own bypass - due to open to traffic by Easter this year - it is well-placed to succeed, according to the Hunter Business Chamber (HBC).

Close to $200 million worth of recent infrastructure investment has been injected into the township over the past two years by local, state and federal governments and this is attracting renewed interest from outside investors.

HBC CEO Bob Hawes said Scone has a number of distinct advantages as a key regional centre and a focal point for specific industries, such as the equine industry.

"It is recognised as the district centre for its hinterland and the removal of heavy vehicle traffic from the town centre makes it a more attractive shopping and leisure destination for people from surrounding areas," he said.

"It also makes it more attractive to travellers looking for a country town experience rather than a quick roadside refuelling stop."

Mr Hawes said Scone will continue to perform as a service centre for agriculture, equine and other sectors - the same industries that bring thousands of people to the region annually for events such as the Scone Horse Festival and Scone Cup Carnival.

And, with improvements to the CBD as a result of planned Kelly Street revitalisation works, there is even further opportunity to build additional events and attractions to showcase Scone's uniqueness.

Efficient transport links such as the Scone bypass, Hunter Expressway extension and planned Singleton and Muswellbrook bypasses will assist in improving connectivity within the Hunter Valley so that more people can enjoy what our rural towns have to offer.

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