Call to tidy empty sites at Port

BARE blocks in Nelson Bay are a black spot for visitors to the seaside town and the council should take action, a community group believes.

The Tomaree Ratepayers and Residents Association has written to Port Stephens Council general manager Peter Gesling over several lots in the town centre, pushing for improvements to the town’s gateway.

The letter includes nine images showing sites the association believe give visitors to the coastal village a bad first impression.

‘‘The entrances along Church and Stockton Street are particularly ugly and uninviting,’’ the letter states.

‘‘It seems very wrong that businesses, visitors and residents alike in our otherwise beautiful seaside town should suffer materially and aesthetically.’’

Association spokeswoman Judy Washington said the group was seeking improvements to the appearance of the empty sites until they were put to use.

‘‘These [blocks] are right in the centre of the town, and it’s such a shame,’’ Ms Washington said.

Winning Holidays Port Stephens manager Debra O’Neill said market conditions were encouraging owners to hold onto their properties until prices rose or developing became more feasible.

‘‘There’s been many commercial buildings for sale over the last seven years and they do take a while to sell,’’ Ms O’Neill said.

‘‘Nelson Bay retailers heavily rely on the tourist traffic, and Australia-wide tourism has been hit hard.’’

Port Stephens Council manager of development and compliance Matt Brown said the owners were responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the properties.

‘‘Council will investigate these sites further, and where appropriate contact the relevant landowner,’’ Mr Brown said.

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