Minutes of the Berry Forum Meeting
Held at the School of Arts on Thursday 8th October 2015 at 7.30pm

Present: 60 residents and ratepayers. Councillors Joanna Gash (Mayor), John Wells, Andrew Guile, Lynne Kearney & Patricia White. Jessica Rippon (Council Community Engagement & Communications)
Apologies: David Carter (Chairman), Noel Marshall (Vice-Chairman), Laurie Watson (Treasurer)

Welcome and Introduction (Stuart Coughlan – Chair)

Strategic Plan for Berry
Introduction (James Robinson – Chair Strategic Plan Sub-Committee)
Introduced the concept as being a set of community guided priorities, adopted and used by Council to prioritise funding of projects and works.
The process is expected to be a series of workshops over 6-9 months.
Funding has been provided by State Government ($25k) and Council ($25k).
The role of Sub-committee will be “process management” rather than content generation.

Background (Cllr. John Wells)
Explained the need for a Strategic Plan for Berry – changes to Berry as a result of the Bypass and a need to pull together dialogues with numerous clubs and organisations.
Funding of $50k has been provided to enable a process similar to the development of the Strategic Plan for Shoalhaven Heads, where all residents were involved to identify 6-7 key issues.
Pleased that the Berry Forum is involved in the process as it will result in a plan that will help to coordinate communication between Council and residents.

Council Process (Jessica Rippon)
Identified the importance of the Berry Strategic Plan for Council as being to allocate priorities, feed the Delivery Plan and Budget, help set goals and actions, identify grant funding opportunities and ensure Community ownership and action.

Identified guidelines for the Strategic Plan as –

  • RMS & Council funding
  • Shared leadership between the Forum and Council’s Project Manager (JR)
  • The Forum will contribute to the brief for selection of consultants to assist process
  • Process to be co-designed
  • Council can provide framework, templates, engagement tools and resources
  • Strategic Plan needs to include certain components, but the structure is determined by the community
  • Shoalhaven Heads Experience (Steve Thompson, Locale – consultant for SH Strategic Plan)
    The Shoalhaven Heads Strategic Plan is not a Land Use or Master Plan, but rather a community document that determines and prioritises strategies such as Tourism, Infrastructure, Open Space, Environment and Community.

    The role of the sub-committee was to keep the process moving and get everyone involved. The process steps were –

    • Initial community survey, based on a single question about what people wanted
    • Ideas were aggregated and consolidated into strategic areas
    • Highest priorities were identified by sub-committee
    • Open day style event with community, including coloured dot voting
    • Final version of plan presented to Council in a way that was “palatable and implementable” by local government
    • Council didn’t necessarily agree with all parts of the Plan, however it was adopted and gave Council an improved understanding of community priorities.

    The Shoalhaven Heads Strategic Plan resulted in –

    • Initial funding for some projects
    • Road Map for future
    • Communication channel between CCB and Council
    • Improved coordination of Council Works

    Shoalhaven Heads Community Experience (Laurie Talbot, President SH CCB)

    • Acknowledged work of Jessica in assisting the process
    • Identified initial involvement with community as a flyer inserted in local newsletter (“What do you like about Shoalhaven Heads?”)
    • Mentioned the process took about 12 months
    • The Strategic Plan facilitates negotiations with Council to prioritise works such as footpaths, pool and park and bush track behind caravan park
    • It also increased volunteerism and ownership of community improvements

    Open Forum
    It is important to retain the “character” of Berry and “beauty” of the area to continue to attract tourists. “What do we what in 50 years?”
    A “Vision Statement on how Berry should look and be” would assist in guiding strategic priorities.

    Stuart Coughlan concluded the discussion by encouraging people to get involved and provide ideas via the Berry Forum email or the Berry Forum website


    Berry Trails Project (Derek Jorgensen (Vice President, Berry Chamber of Commerce)
    Berry post By-Pass will have fewer “Incidental Tourists” and therefore we will need to increase the number of “Destination Tourists”
    The Berry Trails Project (based on the Queenstown (NZ) experience) is designed to attract Destination Tourists and also provide lifestyle benefits for local residents. The project is supported by the Chamber of Commerce.
    Trails will –

    • be designed for leisure (cycling, walking, running) and be easy to access
    • be made of natural materials providing low cost of construction, low maintenance and “all weather”
    • blend into local environment and showcase natural scenery

    Nine potential trails have been identified (total of 140km) including –

    • Some routes through public land that are already partially in existence
    • RMS permitted access to parts of the Highway corridor not used for the new highway
    • Access to the Rail corridor between Berry and Gerringong (which is significantly wider than necessary for the current single track)
    • Use of parts of the existing Princes Highway that will revert to quiet country roads once the new Highway is complete

    Gerroa Road Speed Zone (John Cullity)
    On 29 September, RMS reduced the speed limit on Gerroa Road from 100kph to 80kph on the section north of the intersection of Beach Road before the existing 60kph zone at Gerroa. The change is at the boundary between Kiama and Shoalhaven Councils.
    The reduced speed zone does not include the intersection of Gerroa Road with Beach Road and the entrance to the National Park / Seven Mile Beach, which is regarded as a dangerous intersection.
    A proposal that the Forum ask RMS to extend the 80kph signage south of the intersection received almost unanimous approval.

    Berry Amenities (John Underwood)
    Council has budgeted $200k over the next two years to fund additional toilet facilities on Council land in the Berry CBD.
    The current options under consideration are –

    1. Expand the current facilities in Alexandra St (north of Queen St) outside Haven & Space and the Berry Shoe Shop.  (Although there are existing water services, this site is not preferred by Council as it would be an additional inconvenience for existing shops and consume 1-2 more car-parking spaces on the street).
    2. New facilities at the east end of the Broughton Walk carpark behind Sew & Tell, adjacent to the Museum garden.  (Berry Historical Society have voiced concerns about encroachment on and/or closeness to the Museum and its garden. The Police have safety concerns about the concealed position of this site. Water services are not connected and would be difficult to provide).
    3. New facilities on Alexandra St just south of Queen Street, next to the service station. (The site is currently Loading Zone / Taxi Zone and there are existing water services}.

    There were no votes to retain sites 1 or 2 as options. There were 21 votes to retain site 3 as a potential option (with 12 votes against).

    Open Forum suggestions included –

    • Apex Park facilities – upgraded signage, refurbishment, doors at front of building.
    • Alternative sites – behind the Berry School of Arts or in the park opposite
    • Council purchase of private land using DA development funding
    • Councillor Guile clarified that Council funding could be held over.

    There was general consensus that the Forum should request that Council hold over funding and that additional options be explored.

    Minutes of the Forum Meeting held on 10 September – Approved.

    Financial Report – No change since last meeting.

    Correspondence – A Council request for maintenance priorities will be circulated via email.

    General Business – Showground Pavilion was suggested as a venue from January to June.

    Next Meeting is on 10 December.

    Meeting closed at 9:42pm