Don?t repeat planning errors

'A DESIRE to ensure that past mistakes aren't repeated is perhaps what is currently motivating Woolgoolga Chamber of Commerce president Gordon Abbott.

The chamber is preparing its submission to the Coffs Harbour City Council's draft retail strategy, with Mr Abbott hoping the council will not repeat past planning errors.

"This town (Woolgoolga) has suffered historically because of the existing split between River Street and Beach Street," Mr Abbott said.

"We don't want a repeat of what happened to Coffs Harbour between the CBD and the Plaza."

Mr Abbott is referring to a comment in the strategy which forecasts a possible retail development west of the highway at Woolgoolga.

The strategy states that a redevelopment and consolidation of Woolgoolga is recommended in the short term and additional development examined in the long term.

"This could be considered as part of a new development in a newly zoned retail area, perhaps on the western side of the highway," the report states.

It is this statement that has the chamber, and Woolgoolga businesses, so concerned.

"For business to feel confident, they need to know that they will be able to trade in a market that is not going to be jeopardised by the introduction of a greenfield site west of the highway," Mr Abbott said.

"There is already lots of vacant undeveloped land in Market Street and River Street that should be the focus of future development."

Mr Abbott was also critical of the council's apparent haste in developing the retail strategy.

The council's manager of the economic development unit, Ms Megan Dixon, said the retail strategy had grown out of a development review of the harbourside precinct.

"The strategy came out of us reviewing the level of development within the harbourside precinct," Ms Dixon said.

"We came to the conclusion that we couldn't examine the harbourside in isolation to the rest of the city. We haven't put any recommendations to the council.

"Whilst the document has some broad strategies, we are not fixed on any recommendation. We are looking for community feedback and the responses from existing retailers."

Submissions will be received until April 13. The results from submissions will be incorporated into draft recommendations for the council to workshop.

For further information contact Ms Dixon on 6648 4000.

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