Town needs a lift

They are just a few kilometers from each other, but when it comes to their economies the towns of Littlehampton and Nairne couldn’t be further apart.
The former is enjoying a revitalisation that has drawn to its main street a doctors’ surgery, chemist, bakery and now a supermarket.
The local pub has been upgraded and a new bottle shop built next door.
It’s a busy little place with a relatively constant stream of traffic coming through from Woodside, Balhannah, Oakbank, Nairne and Mt Barker.
But further down the Princes Highway, the story is a bleaker one for Nairne.
In recent times it has lost its doctors’ surgery and residents can no longer buy petrol.
There used to be a real estate agent, vet surgery, butcher and a green grocer.
Now the town’s locals have to go elsewhere for these services.
Nairne would have a population about double that of Littlehampton.
It could easily sustain more shops and services – if only there were people venturing down the historic main street to use them.
That, it seems, is the crux of the problem.
Many Nairne residents work outside the town, usually to the west in Mt Barker or Adelaide. Many also live on that side, in new estates built along Woodside Road.
It’s easy and convenient for these residents to drop the kids off at the school on the outskirts of the town and head straight to work each day.
It’s also easy to do the grocery shopping in Adelaide or Mt Barker on the way home.
Without a key service, such as a supermarket, to draw people in regularly, there is little reason for locals to venture down the main street except to collect mail from the post office. Now that there’s no petrol and no doctor, there will be even less.
That is a major concern for the town’s remaining businesses.
Many want a supermarket and some new shopping development – but where it should go remains the issue.
A developer has proposed a new shopping centre at the entrance to the town, on the corner of the Princes Highway and Woodside Road.
It would bring a supermarket and specialty shops – retail choice for local shoppers and jobs for residents.
But the Nairne and District Residents’ Association is concerned that would draw people away from the town centre.
Another option is to redevelop the old Chapman’s factory site at the eastern end of the main street to attract shoppers up the street.
Regardless of the proposals, it is clear that something must be done to secure Nairne’s long-term future.
Residents will wait with interest to see the Mt Barker Council’s master plan for their town.