Shortage of car parking tops concerns at Spiire's Merimbula landscape meeting

Jenny Seller, of Merimbula, left, Andrew Pattie, Berrambool and Hedley Seller, Merimbula inspect the plans. Mr Pattie, who is secretary of Merimbula Tourism Inc, thought the plans provided “an overall good basis to determine the establishment of the town’s design principles”. It was a “good presentation” and provided a talking point. He said that Merimbula Tourism, the Merimbula Chamber of Commerce and the Special Events Committee were in favour of removing the Visitor Information Centre from its Beach Street location and establishing a new centre at the southern end of the boat ramp car park. It also had been the subject of discussion with the council, Mr Pattie said.

Jenny Seller, of Merimbula, left, Andrew Pattie, Berrambool and Hedley Seller, Merimbula inspect the plans. Mr Pattie, who is secretary of Merimbula Tourism Inc, thought the plans provided “an overall good basis to determine the establishment of the town’s design principles”. It was a “good presentation” and provided a talking point. He said that Merimbula Tourism, the Merimbula Chamber of Commerce and the Special Events Committee were in favour of removing the Visitor Information Centre from its Beach Street location and establishing a new centre at the southern end of the boat ramp car park. It also had been the subject of discussion with the council, Mr Pattie said.

Simon Terry, of Merimbula, discusses CBD landscape plans with Tim Buykx, senior associate with council’s consultant Landscape Architect, Spiire, outside Twyford Hall, Merimbula.  Mr Terry gave the plans the thumbs down.“The plans need to go back to the drawing board.” He said traffic flows had not been adequately addressed.  He thought the hiring of consultants was a waste of money and that the locals could have done as good a job.

Simon Terry, of Merimbula, discusses CBD landscape plans with Tim Buykx, senior associate with council’s consultant Landscape Architect, Spiire, outside Twyford Hall, Merimbula. Mr Terry gave the plans the thumbs down.“The plans need to go back to the drawing board.” He said traffic flows had not been adequately addressed. He thought the hiring of consultants was a waste of money and that the locals could have done as good a job.

While opinions may have differed on aspects of design concepts promoted in landscape plans for Merimbula’s CBD, there was no equivocation on the town’s historic bugbear - the shortage of car parking.

Bega Valley Shire Council’s consultant Landscape Architect, Spiire held a footpath consultation (listening post) with the public outside Twyford Hall on Thursday March 6 to gain feedback to a series of design options for key areas in Merimbula.

Spiire senior associate Tim Buykx spent the day fielding questions, discussing the options and taking on board community comments.

"‘Merimbula is in a fantastic setting but has some decent-sized challenges."

Tim Buykx

He said strong opinions were not uncommon, a reflection of the passion people felt about the street landscape.

When the News Weekly spoke with Mr Buykx last week he said some people were in favour of making the centre more pedestrian friendly whereas others emphasised the need to improve the traffic flow but car parking issues were the overreaching concern.  

He said he didn’t have “a silver bullet” to address the car parking issue. “There is not one cause or solution to it. The Designs Vision and Options report will establish where it sits in the spectrum.

“The council needs to make a decision on car parking; it is outside the scope of our brief.”

Some people came to the consultation with fixed ideas whereas others were there to acquaint themselves with the design options, he said.

”At this stage there is no concrete design, what we are offering are options and getting feedback on those,” Mr Buykx.

“The idea is to avoid the problem when a draft master plan is prepared and then it does not hit the mark and you have to take it back to the drawing board and start afresh.”

Mr Buykz said the project team was guided by the council brief, Roads and Maritime Services, disability access issues and by the community.

“Merimbula is in a fantastic setting but has some decent sized challenges. “The waterfront and arcades that bring people from the car park (Palmer Street) to the waterfront are big attractors but one of the biggest challenges is the town’s gradient particularly poor at Hyland’s Corner.”

Mr Buykz said the architectural character of the retail premises and infrastructure did little to enhance the CBD.

“There is lack of significant public space with activity providing vibrant hear within the town centre,” Mr Buykz said.

The project team will collate data from the feedback and prepare a draft Landscape Master Plan for each of the shire’s four urban centres – Merimbula, Bega, Eden and Bermagui. The draft plan will be available for comment and feedback in mid 2014. Meanwhile people can find out more about the project, register your details and complete the survey. Access the project website at www.spiire.com.au/projects/begavalley. The survey closes on March 21.