We’re just not happy Jan

15 YEARS ON: Bicheno project still dogs Jan Cameron

Sunday Tasmanian - - Front Page - ANNE MATHER

TAS­MA­NIAN mil­lion­aire Jan Cameron is be­ing given the hurry-up over the re­de­vel­op­ment of Bicheno’s prime tourist prop­erty — the for­mer Sil­ver Sands Re­sort on the East Coast town’s wa­ter­front — af­ter it has sat largely un­changed for more than a decade.

There’s a lot of in­ter­est in the East Coast … and Ms Cameron has promised a lot but not de­liv­ered. We seem to have an owner who’s all talk Tas­ma­nian Tourism In­dus­try Coun­cil chief LUKE MARTIN

FRUS­TRA­TION is grow­ing about a prime tourism site on Tas­ma­nia’s East Coast that re­mains mostly idle more than a decade af­ter it was bought by mil­lion­aire busi­ness­woman Jan Cameron.

Ms Cameron’s wa­ter­front Sil­ver Sands re­sort at Bicheno, which she pur­chased in 2002, was closed in 2015 ahead of an ex­pected re­de­vel­op­ment.

But the frus­trated com­mu­nity is still wait­ing, and the state’s tourism in­dus­try chief has de­clared it time for Ms Cameron to de­liver on her re­de­vel­op­ment prom­ises.

“A lot of frus­tra­tion is be­ing felt by lo­cals and the in­dus­try,” said Tas­ma­nian Tourism In­dus­try Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Luke Martin.

Mr Martin said there was a lot of pres­sure to find ap­pro­pri­ate tourism ac­com­mo­da­tion sites in the re­gion, and such a prime strip of wa­ter­front al­ready zoned for ac­com­mo­da­tion should not be left idle.

“There’s a lot of in­ter­est in the East Coast … and Ms Cameron has promised a lot but not de­liv­ered,” Mr Martin said.

“We seem to have an owner who’s all talk.”

Ms Cameron told the Sun­day Tas­ma­nian she was still com­mit­ted to the Bicheno site, and her re­de­vel­op­ment plans re­mained in place.

“My plans have not changed,” said Ms Cameron, who lives about six months of the year in Bicheno.

She said there was no time-frame on the de­vel­op­ment at this stage, but Sil­ver Sands would be­come tourism ac­com­mo­da­tion at some point in the fu­ture.

“It’s still the best lo­ca­tion in Bicheno,” said the founder of re­tail chain Kath­mandu.

Much of the site is be­hind fenc­ing and pad­locked, although some rooms of the orig­i­nal mo­tel are be­ing rented out be­fore their ex­pected de­mo­li­tion.

Glam­or­gan Spring Bay Mayor Michael Kent said many in the com­mu­nity would like to see ac­tion on the prime site.

“We have great ex­pec­ta­tions — please hurry up,” Cr Kent urged Ms Cameron.

“We’ve been hear­ing about it for so long.”

Spec­u­la­tion has been rife about the site in Bicheno for sev­eral years, with talk in 2015 that Ms Cameron was in talks with Dan­ish de­sign­ers.

But Ms Cameron never con­firmed the ru­mours, re- veal­ing only that she had been “speak­ing to a lot of peo­ple”.

Deputy Mayor Cheryl Arnol said the in­ac­tion was sur­pris­ing.

“I am sur­prised at the lack of progress on the re­de­vel­op­ment on that site,” she said.

“The whole com­mu­nity and coun­cil had ex­pec­ta­tions that some­thing would hap­pen on that site … per­son­ally I am sur­prised by the lack of progress.”

East Coast Tourism chief ex­ec­u­tive Ruth Dowty said it was her un­der­stand­ing that Ms Cameron had been in talks with ar­chi­tects.

“A lot of Tasmanians have very fond mem­o­ries of the Sil­ver Sands and it would be … won­der­ful to see some­thing on the site — it’s a beau­ti­ful lo­ca­tion, a re­ally gor­geous spot,” Ms Dowty said.

While Sil­ver Sands lies idle, pres­sure for de­vel­op­ment is in­ten­si­fy­ing on other ar­eas of the East Coast — with pro­pos­als such as the $100 mil­lion Cam­bria Green de­vel­op­ment at Dol­phin Sands spark­ing a com­mu­nity back­lash.

Mr Martin said the East Coast “des­per­ately needs” in­vest­ment. He said it was a shame sites such as Sil­ver Sands — that were al­ready set aside for tourism ac­com­mo­da­tion — were be­ing so un­der utilised.

“We are hav­ing a se­ri­ous dis­cus­sion in Tas­ma­nia about ap­pro­pri­ate tourism in­vest­ment so it’s frus­trat­ing when you look at that site,” he said.

He said that if Ms Cameron was no longer in­ter­ested in the re­de­vel­op­ment, oth­ers should be given the chance to take it on.

Pic­ture right: NIKKI DAVIS-JONES

PRIME LO­CA­TION: Jan Cameron, pic­tured right with dogs Tzyu and Ruby, says she still has plans to de­velop the “best lo­ca­tion in Bicheno”.

Pic­ture: LIBBY SUTHER­LAND

LOCKED UP: The Sil­ver Sands site.

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