Court plans plea

Com­mit­tee seeks hold on projects

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - FRONT PAGE - JAMES KITTO

EX­PAN­SION plans at the his­toric Wil­low Court site may have hit a hur­dle with the Der­went Val­ley Coun­cil be­ing urged to de­lay de­ci­sions about the precinct’s fu­ture.

This week’s Der­went Val­ley Coun­cil meet­ing agenda re­veals plans by the multi-award win­ning Agrar­ian Kitchen to re­lo­cate its Lach­lan Cook­ing School to Wil­low Court and de­velop a pro­duce gar­den.

The agenda for to­mor­row night’s meet­ing will also con- sider a pro­posal for the con­struc­tion of a rum dis­tillery at the New Nor­folk site.

But in a no­tice of mo­tion for the same meet­ing, coun­cil­lor Anne Salt urged the coun­cil to im­pose a 120-day mora­to­rium to al­low the coun­cil’s Friends of Wil­low Court Spe­cial Com­mit­tee more time to de­velop its own plans for the site.

Coun­cil­lor Salt yes­ter­day de­clined to com­ment and re­ferred the Gazette to Friends of Wil­low Court deputy chair­man Tony Ni­chol­son.

Mr Ni­chol­son said it was im­por­tant the coun­cil spent longer con­sid­er­ing other Wil­low Court ex­pan­sion ideas, in­clud­ing an over­ar­ch­ing Friends of Wil­low Court con­ser­va­tion man­age­ment plan.

“I feel it’s im­por­tant to re­assess and look at all op­tions to make sure the coun­cil doesn’t ac­cept un­so­licited ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est,” he said.

“The Friends of Wil­low Court pro­pri­etary work for the de­vel­op­ment of a con­ser­va­tion man­age­ment plan is in its in­fancy, but it will be about cre­at­ing some­thing that’s sus­tain­able.”

Mr Ni­chol­son, a former Der­went Val­ley mayor who is seek­ing re-elec­tion to the coun­cil, said the mora­to­rium wasn’t

about re­ject­ing plans for de­vel­op­ment from the pro­po­nents.

“I’m sure there will be a lot for, and a lot against the pro­posed ex­pan­sion plans at Wil­low Court, but we want to fo­cus on our view,” he said.

“This is not a crit­i­cism of oth­ers.”

Der­went Val­ley Coun­cil gen­eral man­ager Greg Win­ton said if the coun­cil sup­ported the in­tent of the mo­tion, it would be “ap­pro­pri­ate” for other re­lated items in the agenda to be de­ferred.

The an­nounce­ment of plans for a new dis­tillery and ex­panded Agrar­ian Kitchen site fol­lows a Der­went Val­ley Em­ploy­ment re­port by the Tas­ma­nian Coun­cil of So­cial Ser­vice in May that re­vealed about 30 per cent of res­i­dents sur­veyed said there was a lack of jobs in the re­gion.

The Agrar­ian Kitchen’s Rod­ney Dunn said Wil­low Court had an ex­cit­ing fu­ture.

“The precinct as a whole has a huge amount of po­ten­tial, and we’re see­ing that with the pro­posal of a new dis­tillery look­ing to come in,” he said.

“It would only at­tract more vis­i­tors to the area and bring new op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple.”

The pro­posal of a new dis­tillery and ex­panded Agrar­ian Kitchen at Wil­low Court comes less than two weeks af­ter two peo­ple were charged over a fire which de­stroyed an­other build­ing on the site, most of which has been in the coun­cil’s hands for nearly 20 years.

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