Sun­light on Wil­low

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - FRONT PAGE -

A RUM dis­tillery at Wil­low Court and an ex­pan­sion of the Agrar­ian Kitchen will be ne­go­ti­ated be­tween de­vel­op­ers and the Der­went Val­ley Coun­cil over the next two months.

The two pro­pos­als for the Wil­low Court site were for­mally noted by coun­cil­lors at last week’s coun­cil meet­ing and gen­eral man­ager Greg Win­ton was asked to en­ter into ne­go­ti­a­tions and re­port back within 60 days.

At the same meet­ing, a mo­tion to de­fer con­sid­er­a­tion of ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est in the use of coun­cil-owned build­ings at Wil­low Court failed to win sup­port.

The meet­ing heard that the Agrar­ian Kitchen pro­poses to move its Lach­lan cook­ing school to Wil­low Court to be co-lo­cated with its suc­cess­ful restau­rant there, and that Cru­sader Homes would like to es­tab­lish a rum dis­tillery on the his­toric site in cen­tral New Nor­folk.

Deputy mayor Ben Shaw said the cur­rent coun­cil had de­cided nearly four years ago that some­thing sub­stan­tial had to be done to ac­ti­vate Wil­low Court af­ter years of ne­glect.

“Rod­ney Dunn [of the Agrar­ian Kitchen] came along and made a pro­posal to the coun­cil.

“It’s one of the best things that has hap­pened to that site and to this com­mu­nity in a very long time,” Cr Shaw said.

“It has put us on the map in terms of food and in terms of a des­ti­na­tion,” he said.

Cr Shaw said the coun­cil had ad­ver­tised the site to the world for ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est and that had led to the pro­pos­als be­fore the coun­cil.

Cr Julie Trif­fett said Wil­low Court was a site with “dark ex­pe­ri­ences, dark thoughts and dark treat­ment” and it was time to open it up and let in the sun.

Cr James Gra­ham said he un­der­stood con­cerns about fu­ture uses of the former hos­pi­tal site but he was cer­tain that the her­itage would be re­spected.

Ear­lier, Cr Anne Salt pro­posed a 120-day mora­to­rium on ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est for Wil­low Court; de­vel­op­ment of a sin­gle Con­ser­va­tion Man­age­ment Plan to con­sol­i­date the mul­ti­ple in­di­vid­ual CMPs; and waiv­ing the $110 site open­ing fee for tours pro­vided by the Friends of Wil­low Court.

Cr Salt said the coun­cil had ac­cepted an ex­pres­sion of in­ter­est from the Friends of Wil­low Court and the group needed time to de­velop a de­tailed plan.

Cr Gra­ham said he un­der­stood the in­tent of the mora­to­rium pro­posal but not the 120-day span, while Cr Shaw said he saw it as a road­block for other in­ter­ested par­ties.

Cr Salt chal­lenged the mayor to read out a fur­ther ex­pres­sion of in­ter­est lodged the day be­fore the meet­ing.

Mayor Evans said this lat­est sub­mis­sion, from a com­mu­nity arts group, would be con­sid­ered in due course.

When put to the vote, Cr Salt’s three mo­tions were un­suc­cess­ful, voted down 5-1.

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