Eden Chamber of Commerce president Peter Barber says demolishing the iconic Hotel Australasia would be akin to “pulling out the front teeth” of the town.
Mr Barber addressed a conciliation conference involving hotel stakeholders at the Imlay Street site on Thursday morning, putting forward the community’s views on why the building should be retained.
Great Southern Developments, who purchased the site in 2012, have proposed to demolish the hotel and build a supermarket on the site.
This has been strongly opposed by members of the local community, and Bega Valley Shire Council, who moved to heritage list the building in April.
“It’s steeped in history; removing this building would be like pulling out a front tooth,” Mr Barber said.
“The building has associations with the days of grandeur in Eden, predominantly with fishing.
“The community has been involved in planning, with endless studies, culminating in documents leading to the current Development Control Plan.
“They (the documents) say ‘retain buildings that make a statement’.
“This is a signature building that must be retained.”
Bega Valley Shire Council has given strong support for the incorporation of a maritime theme for the town in its current Development Control Plan (DCP).
In a submission made to the Land and Environment Court commissioner, the Eden Chamber of Commerce says the hotel’s demolition and a proposed supermarket development on the site contradicts what has been set out in the DCP.
The submission notes that section 220.127.116.11 of the DCP states that, “Signature buildings having a significant impact will be conserved and enhanced. New buildings performing such functions will be encouraged and existing buildings ‘retrofitted’.”
It goes on to say, “Existing Eden landmarks must be preserved and established views to and from them protected. New view corridors must be created to assist in Eden’s memorability, legibility and character where possible.”
Mr Barber says the Chamber argues that the proposed redevelopment would have “much less stature in both form and character”.