Bega district Letters to the Editor, October 13

Zone changes

I would like to call on all rural landholders, farmers, developers, speculators and sea and tree-changers to attend a meeting at the Merimbula RSL on October 19 at 6pm to address the draconian E zonings the Bega Valley Shire Council has unscrupulously brought upon unsuspecting ratepayers.

I would also like to encourage Bega Shire councillors to attend this meeting so they can listen to the concerns of ratepayers who are and will be so badly affected by these zoning changes.

This is an opportunity for everyone to voice their concerns, not only about the E zone encumbrances being forced upon us but the way in which our Bega Valley Council has stealthily imposed these regressive rulings. These unfair rulings will impede if not destroy any chance of rural growth and need to be halted immediately.

Clyde Thomas, Kiah

Calls for reform

The Bega Valley Shire Residents and Ratepayers Association believes it is more than a little ironic that less than a year after completing an eight-year run as a councillor, including two years as mayor, Michael Britten is calling for council reform (BDN, 13/9).

While the BVSRRA shares Mr Britten’s expressed concern regarding council’s ongoing failure to review the shire’s planning rules, in particular its Commercial Centres Strategy, it can only wonder why he did not initiate such a review in accordance with the direction of the NSW Department of Planning, issued just three months after he was elected mayor in 2014?

As for Mr Britten’s reported call for a more “proactive rather than reactive” approach to development and planning in the shire, that would not seem to accord with his comments in the council’s 2015 annual report, where he recounted some of council’s major development achievements in the form of the Bega Civic Centre, town centre improvements and the Eden Port project, although he neglected to mention council’s record in supporting a number of contentious commercial developments across the shire.

The BVSRRA can only wonder how, less than a year after losing office, Mr Britten can reconcile his criticisms of council with the state government’s finding that it was “Fit for the Future” - recognition accorded while he was mayor?

John Richardson, BVSRRA

GREEN: A working bee was held in the gardens at the Bega Country Club on Sunday ahead of this weekend's Bega Open and the following Sunday's Big Ball Drop fun day.

GREEN: A working bee was held in the gardens at the Bega Country Club on Sunday ahead of this weekend's Bega Open and the following Sunday's Big Ball Drop fun day.

Brilliant idea

Jenny Drenkhahn’s suggestion that Eden’s Hotel Australasia be the building to house a new regional art gallery for the Bega Valley is inspired, in my view. 

Located with a prominent frontage to Imlay Street and bounded by Eden’s largest public car park, the site provides numerous opportunities for a successful cultural, social and commercial facility.

The hotel features small but classically proportioned windows to its frontage, relying on artificial lighting for the activities within. This, together with the building’s expansive and solid masonry walls, could readily provide bucket loads of useful ground floor exhibition space without tampering with the historic facade. 

Other supporting uses such as art classes, art studios and even artists-in-residence could be located at first floor level or take advantage of the north-easterly aspect looking out to sea. 

Community activities, gardens and outdoor exhibits could again fill this underused land, supported by retail and hospitality outlets facing the laneway.

What better use than a gallery and related activities to provide a tourist and community anchor for the southern end of the shire?  

With the wharf extension underway and moves to upgrade and renovate the Snug Cove commercial outlets the timing couldn’t be better to consider the adaptive re-use of the Hotel Australasia for a regional art gallery.  

What a brilliant idea!

Claire Middleton, Eden