VISION: Hamilton Business Chamber president Nathan Errington at James Street Plaza on Wednesday. The chamber is pushing for an upgrade of the area. Picture: Brodie OwenHAMILTON Business Chamber is banking on the state government and council to come to the table and rejuvenate the suburb they say hasn’t seen significant investment since the 1989 earthquake.
The chamber met with businesses and residents on Wednesday to map out ideas for the James Street Plaza – located on Beaumont Street near the Clock Tower – andspearhead a renewal of the area, which has seen an increase incrime and anti-social behaviour since the truncation of the rail line.
The ideas proposed included new playgrounds, lighting, an amphitheatre and more pedestrian zones.
Chamber president Nathan Errington said he wanted Hamilton to have a “new look” to ward off negative perceptions of the suburb.
“We believe as a chamber that since the earthquake,Hamilton hasn’t had any money spent since then,” he said.
“We want to attract families and new people to come to Hamilton.”
Mr Errington said the increase in anti-social behaviour was concerning to many people in the suburb, and some business owners felt unsafeas they left work.
TheNewcastle Heraldhas reported of several armed robberies, assaults –including on police officers –and brawls on Beaumont Street in the last 12 months.
The chamber has in the past been critical of the state government’s willingness to fix Hamilton’s crime problems after a delay in receiving funding for a CCTV proposal.
However, Mr Errington said the chamber is now in regular contact with parliamentary secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald.
Police have alsoincreased patrols in Hamilton.
And it is hoped the recent show of good faith extends to when the chamber asks for funding from the state government and council to fund its James Street Plaza vision.
Mr Errington believes the proposal could be a reality by next year, depending on council approvals.
“We’re doing this ourselves because we want to make sure we’re doing something to rectify the problems,” he said.
“So we’re working with the state government and Scot MacDonald, and also council, to come up with the funding and work out what the best grants are for James Street.”