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Is the Clyde foreshore being set up for pop-up cafes

The rapidly changing face of the Clyde foreshore is bringing with it changes in thought of how to best take advantage of the consequences of no off ramp from the new bridge into Clyde Street and the new traffic restrictions being imposed on Clyde Street and Orient Street that will see any vehicle over 8.8m required to trundle along the newly refurbished "pedestrian friendly" section of Orient Street.

Image issued by Transport NSW This restriction will see pan-tecnicans, semi trailers, cars with caravans and cars with boats diverted to exit via Orient Street. It is little wonder that Council now moves to permanently close the Clyde Street boatramp to discourage boaters entering the CBD precinct. The Batemans Bay Foreshore Committee warned Council that the vision staff had for the Clyde Foreshore failed to represent business acumen and that if it was intended to attract people to the precinct Council would need to reassess the priority it was giving to carparking and instead give priority to visitors and recognise that there was value in waterside dining as per the example of Murra Mia walkway. It was recognised by those with business acumen (and skin in the game) that the Clyde Street end would become even more of a "dead end" once the bridge off ramp was removed. It was already evident that the number of shopfronts for lease was steadily growing and this was well before bushfires and Covid. Yet their advice was ignored and the vision of shopfronts and outside dining on the "wrong side" of the street with the water views blocked by carparks remained the only option on the table. In the end many in the Foreshore Advisory Committee threw their arms in the air and left realising they were there to tick a box marked "Consultation", unable to do anything except vote on a preferred colour and location for rubbish bins. We now move ahead to November 2020 and the reality of what awaits the foreshore precinct is becoming more apparent. The off ramp will soon be permanently closed. No longer will tourists casually glide into the Batemans Bay foreshore to stretch their legs and enjoy a coffee or meal. Instead they will arrive at the Bay from the north on a four lane bridge that blocks any view and encounter the five lane thunderdome of Vesper Street. If they aren't prepared and informed that North Street is their only CBD access they will shoot by it. By the time they get to Beach Road it is too late. This month we have also witnessed a change in the Clyde Street landscape with agencies such as headspace and the NBN leasing vacant shops. With rapidly increasing rents, the impact of Covid on trading and the disruptions already in place from the new bridge build there are real concerns that this section of the CBD will continue to fail. This might explain why a new floating pontoon has been identified for the precinct that might encourage more locals to the precinct. As to who might use the pontoon? Another idea that might well come to fruition for the Clyde foreshore are the very popular pop-ups we are seeing at the Marina and across the Bay at Wray Street. Council might well be inspired to see these introduced along the foreshore as it is evident that they are popular, provide the "next to water" experience that people enjoy, are more affordable in terms of rental and add an element of vibrancy. Such an idea of the introduction of more pods is not new to our Council planning staff who have seen firsthand the regional benefits of thinking outside of the box and embracing modified containers such as the Piccolo Pod in Wodonga that was locally manufactured and installed with Council blessing to revitalise a section of the town's CBD. As pop-up and permanent shipping containers continue to gain popularity around the world, WOTBOX from Wodonga are one of many who "have cemented their place at the forefront of high-end container modifications." WOTBOX said of their operation "We are able to source almost all of their core materials locally and transport the products across Australia using both the local rail hub at Ettamogah and quality local transport suppliers."

“We’ve found that having a regional manufacturing location is an advantage rather than an impediment to growth.”

"The area is an important distribution base for our core materials, so it’s sometimes easier to access other regions from Albury Wodonga than metro locations!"

“Operating in a regional location meant that we could set up and source great contractors at a fraction of the cost than in Sydney,” he said. Maybe it is time for our Council to begin thinking outside of the box, as they did in Wodonga, and recognise the potential of modified containers for use in tourism and to fill the desperate need of affordable housing. Imagine more of these pop-ups along our foreshores. Long Beach, Maloneys, Lilli Pilli, Malua Bay, Nth Broulee, Congo, Coila, Bar Beach, Mystery Bay. Oysters, prawns, coffee, tacos, burgers. All built within the Shire. If we build it they WILL come. And they might actually come to the Clyde River foreshore. Don't be surprised if our planners haven't already thought of this and have plans afoot.

Image: Piccolo Pod

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