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Revitalisation injects new life into Ulmarra

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A new lease of life has been injected into an historic local town with visitors raving about the beautification of Ulmarra after a $3.4 million makeover by Clarence Valley Council.

The Ulmarra CBD revitalisation includes new footpaths, drainage, road sealing replacement on Coldstream Street, new landscaping and trees planted, new street furniture, a new pedestrian crossing, and a raised intersection at Coldstream Street and River Street.

The redevelopment of Bailey Park saw a new toilet block constructed, a new children’s playground installed, plus new picnic shelters, new barbeques, new furniture and lighting, to provide an attractive place for families.

The project was funded by a $2.4 million grant obtained by former Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis and a $900,000 voluntary developer contribution from Serco when they built the Clarence Correctional Centre.

Clarence Valley Council staff were engaged to undertake the work, which began in September 2022, after initial tenders exceeded the project budget.

The work was based on the Ulmarra Riverside Village Precinct Plan which was designed following extensive community consultation to establish Ulmarra as a ‘must see’ destination for visitors, to revitalise the river’s edge and improve access, and to promote the town as a place of character and heritage significance.

Ulmarra Hotel publican Dean Baird said the project provided a big aesthetic improvement for the villages aging infrastructure.

“In general, I think it is a big improvement, it’s not perfect, but it’s a big improvement,” he said.

“The park will be the big drawcard as far as bringing people to Ulmarra as its much nicer and the new amenities block is much nicer.”

Mr Baird said he had concerns about the reduced parking outside the pub and the narrowing of the Coldstream Street and River Street intersection, which made it difficult for trucks to negotiate.

Coldstream Gallery owner and Clarence Valley Councillor Steve Pickering said the beautification of the Ulmarra CBD has breathed new life into the town, once bypassed by highway travellers who are now stopping to enjoy the revitalized village.

“I’ve been getting feedback from tourists and locals who are saying how fantastic it is, I’ve heard the words pretty village very a lot of times, especially from visitors from outside the area,” he said.

“People have said they’ve been travelling down the old highway past Ulmarra for decades and they never knew the village was down Coldstream Street, but now the streets been upgraded and been revamped they’ve been drawn down into the village centre.”

Cr Pickering said local business owners are reporting increased visitors since the revitalisation has been done.

“I think it’s already benefiting businesses in the village; it’s definitely drawing in people off the main road and its bringing people to our area,” he said.

Groups from Coffs Harbour and Byron Bay have been monitoring the work every few months, Cr Pickering said as a project that other LGA’s are looking at replicating.

“There’s higher visitor numbers in the village, there’s people in the village earlier in the day and they are staying later in the day meaning the length of time people are visiting has been extended, which is great for businesses,” he said.

“I think, as a business owner, the council staff did a brilliant job of bringing the project together and informing the community along the way about the work being conducted.”

A pontoon is planned to be installed on the river at the end of Coldstream Street in the next stage of the project to provide boat owners access to the CBD, with a terraced seating amphitheatre and a boardwalk to join with Bailey Park to be installed when further funding is available.

Clarence Valley Independent 16 August 2023

This article appeared in the Clarence Valley Independent, 16 August 2023.

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