Dear Beagle Editor,
In light of the many recent articles regarding your Batemans Bay planning with bypasses, bridges, aquatic centres, six lane foreshore highways and the planning that might bring it all together we offer an insight by our own southern example into the community's need to keep a careful watch over proceedings. on monumental incompetence …
The Bega Valley Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association (BVSRRA) notes that Bega Valley Shire Council has once again attempted to disguise its blatant pro-development behaviour & abject policy failure by pretending that it is acting in the community’s best interests.
In confirming its decision to extend the 12 month Due Diligence Deed that provided XXXX Company X XXXX with a free option to purchase prime Main Street, Merimbula land, including the old Council Library site, by a further seven months, council has claimed that it has secured the availability of valuable parking for Merimbula over the upcoming Christmas/New Year tourist season.
Council is reported to have claimed that Company X were keen to access the site & commence work on the development of the proposed Aldi supermarket prior to Christmas, inferring that they agreed to delay their plans to help the community.
The BVSRRA believes that any such suggestion is sheer rubbish & is entirely self-serving on the part of council in an attempt to disguise its willingness to accommodate just about any request put to it by commercial developers.
The BVSRRA believes the simplest proof of its claim lies in the fact that if Company X was so keen to move ahead with its development, then why hasn’t it simply proceeded with the purchase; a purchase that it has alleged it has already stated it is committed to?
Of course, in claiming that by extending Company X’s option by a further seven months, council has successfully alleviated parking pressures in Merimbula, council simply succeeds in further demonstrating its failure to address the larger parking problem that continues to haunt Merimbula & threatens the town’s economy.
Over a year ago the Merimbula community was clamouring for council to meet its obligations to provide adequate parking, in particular by utilising funds previously provided to council in the form of developer contributions.
The serious parking problem already recognised by everyone other than council had been further exacerbated by yet another stupid decision on its part when it agreed to remove the requirement for the developer of the new Woolworths supermarket to provide 127 car parking spaces within the town during the construction period.
Confronted with a crisis in confidence from within the community & having no strategic action plan that it could point at to demonstrate it was addressing the problem, council decided to cover is eyes & pretend that there wasn’t really a problem.
Council hurriedly released a report claiming that it had exceeded its obligations to provide developer funded parking in the town; a report that was quickly discredited when it was realised that council had wrongly included on-street parking spaces in its calculations, while also including 60 spaces on the Woolworths development site & the adjoining council-owned site, both of which are private developments with no obligation to provide parking for the public, thus giving rise to an aggregate shortfall of around 150 spaces.
Added to the 127 spaces that the developer of the Woolworths site should have been required to provide during construction & there is a clear immediate shortfall of more than 250 spaces in the town. Even after the 127 spaces are reinstated after the Woolworths complex is constructed, there will still be a shortfall of 130 spaces that council has an obligation to provide.
The failure of council to develop a comprehensive strategic plan to guide the future development of Merimbula, coupled with its failure to meet its obligations to ensure the required off street parking is made available within the town to meet its commercial needs is nothing short of a planning disaster.
The Merimbula Chamber of Commerce has been discussing this issue with Council & is apparently calling a public meeting to discuss “how people would like to see car parking in Merimbula this coming summer?” This is surely a stop gap initiative & council needs to shed some light on how it plans to deal with its permanent obligations.
Meanwhile, in the wake of this debacle, some local businesses are struggling to stay afloat, while council’s silence to-date on its monumental planning failure is deafening.
Bega Valley Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association