IT'S a green light from Greater Taree City Council for businesses in Victoria, Pulteney, Albert and Macquarie Streets in Taree to bring their shop to the street.
From September 1 businesses will be able to use the footpath in a six-month trial to try to boost retail and community activity in the central business district.
The initiative is called the Taree Central Business District Permissions Trial and the catalyst for it was the advice of placemaker, David Engwicht during his visits to the Manning Valley in November 2013 and more recently, in June 2014.
It's part of a push to create a civic heart in Taree and to invigorate the central business district.
Significantly, during the trial council will suspend the payment of existing permits and leases over footpaths across the entire local government area.
The budget implications of this decision is a potential loss of revenue of $9000. However, in a report to the July 16 meeting of council it was revealed the "loss of income may be offset by reduced council staff requirements to assess permits/leases and policing the regulation ... and as suggested by David Engwicht, the loss of $9000 in revenue is minimal in comparison to the goodwill generated between council and the business community."
The goodwill towards council from the business community has already begun to evolve with Tidy Up Taree organiser, Graham Brown declaring council's decision to be "really, really good and we've got to thank them for acting so quickly and they need to be pumped up a bit for that!"
"Councillors were so, so positive about this process during the meeting that they wanted to try to bring this permission plan concept to cover the whole of the Manning Valley," Mr Brown explained.
"There was more than two-and-a-half hours of discussion and I think about eight amendments, but in reality, to do this permission plan process all at once throughout the whole area would just be too hard for a trial.
"It's great councillors saw the value in containing it to the central business district of Taree as it was the area we did the audit on. That means it's a measurable thing.
"If this works, well what I have heard is that council would roll-out this permissions plan concept to the whole local government area.
"It's the thin edge of the wedge and it's absolutely superb!"
Council's senior leader strategic planning, Richard Pamplin said that over the next few weeks council and shop owners would be working closely together to develop a simple checklist which would replace the current red tape, with the aim being to have inviting points of interest as you walk along the main shopping streets.
"This could be more dining on the footpath, stalls, buskers, or games for kids to stop and enjoy - the ideas are limitless," Mr Pamplin said. "To encourage vibrant use of the footpath, the fees paid by shop owners will be suspended while the trial is in place, enabling the shop owners to explore new ideas."
The trial will run from September 1 to February 28, 2015.