Painful Blister

SHOALHAVEN City councillor Andrew Guile claims Junction Court and the Berry Street upgrades are examples of council and its leadership not listening to the needs of local businesses.

DINING OUT: One of the alfresco dining areas on Berry Street is now in place and has become the focus of controversy.

“Now that Shoalhaven residents can see the results of the $210,000 Berry Street footpath renovation in the Nowra CBD, it is clear that Shoalhaven City Council is good at gold plating pathways and not just in Vincentia,” Cr Guile said.

He claimed to have proposed the Berry Street path be fixed in 2012.

“It took until October last year to confirm the budget for this project and then a whole 10 months later we can start to see the results. Alfresco facilities for the lawyers are now well catered for, providing an excellent view of almost all the coffee shops which are on the other side of the road.

“At the same time we lose valuable car parking in the CBD and for what benefit?”

However Berry Street property owner Mark Crowther said he was impressed with the improvement to the footpath and streetscape and not concerned about the loss of parking.

“I think the improvement is well designed,” he said.

“I’m very happy with the footpath in front of our building.

“Building owners were asked to pay a contribution toward the work. We paid $11,000 which was our contribution to help beautify that area.”

He said he was not worried about the four car parking spaces taken over for street scaping because he was confident the multi-storey car park would be built.

“That car park will take about 550 cars and it’s just a few metres away,” he said.

Mr Crowther was more concerned with how to attract businesses to the empty shops along Berry Street.

“The alfresco seating areas built into the streetscape are an integral thing to make this area work,” he said.

“I think it was very worthwhile sacrificing four car spots for that.

“I don’t see retail shops working in this street anymore. You’ve got to work with what the people want here and I think cafes are one answer.

“For businesses along here, though, this work has been a lot of pain. And I think it’s going to take six months to finish, which I think it’s a bit bizarre.”

Deputy mayor John Wells defended the work on Berry Street, saying it was part of the long-term overall plan for the CBD.

“Council has spent a lot of time and money creating the CBD master plan and renovation and upgrading is a large part of that.

“There are a lot of components and Berry Street is only one part of it.”

He said the alfresco areas, known as blisters, were successful in Ulladulla.

“We’re trying to re-energise the town by making it more attractive,” he said.

“One of the reasons we’ve got vacant shops along Berry Street is because the streetscape was so unattractive along there.

“I think Berry Street is going to be a great place.

“It’s just one project. We’ve got much more to do and many of the local business people know we’re on a long journey,” he said.

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