Grafton Chamber of Commerce and Industry executive officer James Patterson and president Jeremy Challacombe say the highway diversion will affect industry in Grafton.
Grafton Chamber of Commerce and Industry executive officer James Patterson and president Jeremy Challacombe say the highway diversion will affect industry in Grafton. JoJo Newby

Prepare for Grafton bypass

IF THE business community of Grafton and the Clarence Valley don't immediately start planning for the eventual highway bypass of the city, businesses could be left behind.

That is the message the Grafton Chamber of Commerce and Industry is promoting as it considers the potential impacts of a proposed Pacific Hwy diversion of Grafton.

Chamber president Jeremy Challacombe said the impacts were a "bit of an unknown", but it was clear there would be fewer highway vehicles passing stopping points like food outlets and the tourist information centre in South Grafton, which could mean fewer travellers making the journey into the city.

He said the tourist information centre might need to be relocated or at least a smaller version built at the highway's off-ramp into Grafton.

But the diversion need not be a negative for the city.

Other centres like Bangalow, Taree and Murwillumbah had survived, and in some cases boomed, following highway diversions and, with proper planning and strong leadership, Grafton had the potential to do the same.

"We need to be proactive and we need to start now," Mr Challacombe said.

"We have to set up a group to look at the potential impacts, how to alleviate the negative ones and have plans in place before it happens.

"We should have those plans set in stone in two years.

"The potential is in developing something like Bangalow from a tourism perspective or as a sporting capital.

"The lifestyle here has always been attractive."



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