Commercial centres under review in Bega Valley

In what may well dictate the future of the coastal towns of Tura Beach, Merimbula and Pambula and their relationship with Bega, council has undertaken a review of its commercial centres strategy.

One of the key drivers for the review has been Wesfarmers’ push for a Bunnings at the corner of Sapphire Coast Drive and Tura Beach Drive, which has been refused by NSW Planning. When the Southern Joint Regional Planning Panel reviewed the decision though, panel members said “with appropriate limits on use and measures to mitigate potential impact on neighbouring land uses, a Bunnings store could be accommodated on the site”.

One of the sticking points has been the council’s 2006 Commercial Centres Strategy, which lists Tura as a village. Now council has reviewed the strategy with the aim of resetting the parameters for the coastal towns.

Council figures show that the three coastal towns had a population of 11,049 in 2016, which is expected to grow to 13,092 by 2036. They currently make up 32.7 per cent of the shire population and are a substantial catchment as a commercial entity.

Bega district had a population in 2016 of 5425 representing 16.1 per cent of the shire’s population and is expected to grow to 6664 by 2036, but Bega has almost twice as much commercial floorspace as the coastal towns together.

Council said that while Bega’s primacy as the seat of local government, major health and educational facilities with a courthouse and government offices, will ensure it remains a regional centre, there is room for commercial expansion, albeit limited because of land availability, in the coastal towns.

The review states there is additional land capacity at Tura and Pambula and that the coastal towns should be viewed as one commercial precinct.

The aim is to get more B5 business development areas with larger lots than currently available. Three potential development areas were considered, including the Bunnings site at Tura.