The Berry Chamber of Commerce Committee has recently advised Chamber members of its communications with Council about matters discussed at Forum meetings. Two extracts are listed below, followed by comments from the Forum Committee providing relevant background.
As you may be aware over the last few months there has been a lot of noise regarding Temporary Function Centres and the Council rules that regulate them.
Weddings are extremely important to the economy in Berry, and therefore to many of our members, as they have major flow-on effects through catering, party hire, venue hire, event services, accommodation, restaurants, retail and beyond.
We are actively talking to Shoalhaven City Council about this issue. If need be, we are happy to organise a briefing in Berry with a representative of Council present to talk through the issues and answer questions.
Forum Committee Comments
- In total, Council has received more than two hundred submissions (many signed by two residents) objecting to the DAs for Strongs Rd and Tindalls Lane, and the dangerous precedent they would set.
- In the case of Tindalls lane, RMS has warned that approval of the DA would lead to destruction of the ambience of the area and a reduction in the land values of neighbouring properties.
- A Berry business owner spoke passionately at the Council meeting about the adverse effect the developments would have on existing function centre businesses.
- Council has been advised of an unambiguous ruling in the Land & Environment Court that provides clear direction to councils to refuse any application causing any adverse impact to the amenity of the neighbourhood.
- It is disappointing that communication of these serious issues affecting people’s lives is being trivialised as “a lot of noise.”
The Chamber regularly receives emails from visitors complaining about the lack of public toilet facilities in Berry. The good news is that there is an allocation in Councils budget to address the issue.
The key question remains where any additional toilet facilities should be located. Currently demand for the toilets in Alexandra St near Haven & Space/Berry Shoes exceeds capacity – with long queues to use this facility a regular occurrence (especially on weekends). The toilets in Apex Park are underutilised but also somewhat ‘off the radar’ for visitors.
Both of these are also North of Queen Street. The only toilets south of Queen St are at the Showground, which is perceived to be too far for visitors to walk from Queen St.
Following discussions with Council, our analysis leads us to consider the best location for new facilities to be the section of Alexandra St between Queen and Princess Streets (allowing for visitor flow and proximity to existing infrastructure).
We would welcome any feedback from members on this subject so that we can assist council in delivering the best possible outcome for visitors to Berry.
Forum Committee Comments
- Until recently, Council’s website stated – “Extensive community engagement has been undertaken since 2013 with the resident group for Berry (Berry Forum) and the Berry Chamber of Commerce and Tourism. Many sites have been investigated. The Berry Forum held a vote on four site options in October 2017 and over 60% preference was to refurbish the public amenities at Apex Park. After detailed investigation the most cost effective preferred option has been determined – to investigate refurbishment or replacement of the existing Apex Park public amenities. Works are proposed to occur in 2019.”
- Notice of the vote to be held at the Forum meeting was published in the Town Crier, as follows – “At the next Forum meeting on 12 October, we will be holding a discussion on this topic to allow you to ask questions and express your view. We will record community preferences for site location and pass the results to Council. If you wish to influence Council’s decision, we advise you to attend the meeting.”
- From the 85 votes cast, there was a very clear community preference for upgrading the existing facility at Apex Park (see voting results below). It was also Council’s preferred site.
- The site in Alexandra St, south of Queen St, received by far the lowest number of votes. The Alexandra St taxi rank site by the service station was discarded by Council due to inadequate distance between the service station driveway and the corner of Queen St to allow for safe vehicle turning
- The BCAC Craft Shop and Muir House volunteers report that there is constant usage of the Apex Park facilities by tourists arriving by coach, visitors to the Park (including wedding parties) and parents using the children’s playground. Access to the toilets has recently been improved with removal of the No Right Turn off Queen Street signs.
- However, we are reliably informed that councillors are being lobbied to get the Berry community’s preference and Council staff’s decision overturned.
PUBLIC TOILET SURVEY RESULTS
|PROPOSED LOCATION||1st Choice||2nd Choice||3rd Choice||4th Choice|
|Upgrade Facility at Apex Park||
|Eastern End of Broughton Car Park||
|Extend Facility in Alexandra St||
|Alexandra St by the Park||
Berry Forum Committee