Demolition of wharf building imminent, stakeholders discuss prospects for precinct

LOOKING FORWARD: President of Eden Chamber of Commerce Eric Wolske says the opening of the Welcome Centre will be positive for the wharf precinct. Photo: Denise Dion.
LOOKING FORWARD: President of Eden Chamber of Commerce Eric Wolske says the opening of the Welcome Centre will be positive for the wharf precinct. Photo: Denise Dion.

Bega Valley Shire Council has approved the development application made by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) to demolish the old wharf building at Snug Cove.

Port Authority of NSW said in their March update of the revitalising Eden harbour program that DPIE is continuing to investigate the future options and funding opportunities.

Eric Wolske, president of Eden Chamber of Commerce said there have been some preliminary discussions with Crown Land and key stakeholders around what a new building on the site should contain.

"They are keeping us informed and good discussions have been had," he said.

"Collaboration and support between the various stakeholders in the area needs to continue, council have been advocating well for what we need."

The demolition is scheduled to take place in late May and mayor Russell Fitzpatrick said in relation to potential future development of the site that at this stage nothing has been submitted to BVSC for approval.

"There are no plans and no tenants that I know of, it will likely depend on the success of funding via BLER."

The Bushfire Local Economic Recovery (BLER) package is part of the $4.4 billion bushfire support program co-funded by the Commonwealth and NSW governments for bushfire recovery, response and preparedness in NSW.

Cr Fitzpatrick said within the Bega Valley Shire, nearly $200million worth in applications were made to BLER for up to 100 separate projects.

One of the grant applications was made by Mr Wolske, seeking $450,000 for the purchase and fit-out of four shipping containers to function as restaurant, take away, cafe and retail spaces, as a medium-term solution to the hospitality shortage.

The eviction of tenants of the wharf building in September 2020 left a gaping hole in the capability of the town to provide hospitality to locals and tourists alike. Photo: Leah Szanto

The eviction of tenants of the wharf building in September 2020 left a gaping hole in the capability of the town to provide hospitality to locals and tourists alike. Photo: Leah Szanto

"These would be a source of revenue for Eden, both now and into the future. Eden would essentially own them," Mr Wolske said.

An outcome is expected on the BLER funding applications by late June. In the meantime, the food vans which have operated in the precinct will continue in their current location up until demolition.

Eden Visitor Information Centre manager Clair Mudaliar said the vans have been a success since they commenced operating on the site at the beginning of November, 2020.

"We are currently negotiating with the government about continuing operation of the food trucks after the demolition," Ms Mudaliar said.

Mr Wolske said he believes more permanent availability of hospitality will drive people back to the wharf area.

"It has been a bit desolate. We need to get that dining experience back where visitors can take in the bay area and what it has to offer," Mr Wolske said.

"The support of our local food trucks has been amazing, however the lack of more permanent hospitality down there at the moment could be having an impact on other businesses.

"A positive is the Welcome Centre is opening shortly... coupled with hospitality, it will be a fantastic destination again."

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