Multi-million dollar upgrade plans stalled
A PLAN to undertake a major upgrade of Coffs Harbour Nursery has been stalled due to traffic concerns, with one nearby resident going so far as to label it an “accident waiting to happen.”
The development application to undertake a multi-million upgrade, with a vision to transform the Sapphire Beach nursery into a destination, was brought before Coffs Harbour City Council on Thursday.
In a submission to the council, local architect Jim Booth said the upgrade would cater to the booming demand being experienced on the Coffs Coast.
He said the nursery, which began operating in mid-2018, had seen business grow steadily over the two years – but it was the COVID-19 pandemic which has seen demand soar.
Mr Booth stated the nursery which is considered an ‘essential service’ saw trading increase by a massive 600 per cent in the April-May 2020 period in comparison to the same time period last year.
“What’s proposed will greatly improve the current offering of Coffs Harbour Nursery and aims to transform its operations into a modern and user-friendly facility,” Mr Booth said in his submission.
The plans for the family-owned nursery include a new Central building to accommodate retail displays, a cafe, outdoor dining and a kids playground.
If approved, the upgraded nursery is expected to provide in excess of 50 local employment positions and will rely on more than 60 locally based suppliers, sub contractors and external businesses to run its operations.
However, there were concerns expressed from nearby residents regarding the proposed vehicle entry being located on residential street Wakelands Rd.
A submission to the council from John Widdowson on behalf of Wakelands Rd and Fairview Rd residents stated the driveway would place an “unnecessary risk” on schoolchildren using the nearby bus stop on Solitary Islands Way.
He said the residents were not opposed to the nursery, but were calling for the entry to be relocated onto Solitary Islands Way.
“Children from these two streets catch the school bus, crossing the proposed nursery driveway to the bus stop.
“This is an accident waiting to happen at least twice a day.”
Councillor Tegan Swan echoed the sentiments from residents, recalling an incident during the site visit with fellow councillors where one councillor was forced off Wakelands Rd to avoid being hit.
“Councillor Amos had to actually get off the road because there were that many cars using that road,” Cr Swan said.
“It’s a balancing act between supporting local business, between wanting to allow businesses to flourish and grow … but also being aware of the community and the potential frustrations.”
Mr Booth stated in his submission that Solitary Islands Way as an access point was not “suitable” and did not align with the council’s Development Control Plan.
Cr Sally Townley instead put an alternative recommendation on the table stating that consideration of the DA be deferred until a traffic investigation into the feasibility of using Solitary Islands Way as an access point was undertaken.
Councillors voted unanimously on this alternative recommendation.