Court plans plea
Committee seeks hold on projects
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.