Brighter future

Nairne residents were fearing for the economic future of the town centre earlier this year.
The petrol station had closed, the doctor’s surgery shut its doors, the long-serving real estate office also closed and the pharmacy was put on the market.
Things looked bleak for a main street that had lost many of its staple businesses over recent years.
However, confidence has slowly returned as the petrol station and pharmacy were taken over by new owners, a new cafe set up shop and a general practitioner returned to the town.
But the retail resurgence is a fragile one, with the main street still suffering from a lack of visitors.
So this week’s announcement that owners of the former Chapman’s smallgoods factory at the eastern end of the precinct are foreshadowing a redevelopment presents some exciting prospects for the town.
A supermarket, shops, retirement village and homes at that end would certainly draw more people through Nairne’s struggling main street, potentially strengthening existing businesses and opening up opportunities for new ones.
Such a development is, in some aspects, ideal for the site. It is close to the main street and public transport and, for retirees especially, there is the nearby golf course.
But the proposal also comes with its own challenges.
The site is built over a creek and there is soil contamination.
The distinctive brick facade of the old factory is heritage-listed. And any supermarket on the land could exacerbate traffic problems on the narrow North Road as residents from the western side of the town seek a short cut to the shops.
Certainly it is exciting that developers are showing a keen interest in the town and that is surely a positive sign for Nairne’s economic future.
It also means that the community now has a difficult decision to make.
Does it want shops and housing at the western entrance to the town, as proposed some time ago by Maton Investments, or would it prefer something at the eastern end?
The community has already expressed real concerns about the impact of the Maton Investments option on the already congested Woodside Road and its troublesome junction with Old Princes Highway.
It also fears the development will cost it a green buffer separating the town from nearby Littlehampton.
Both proposals have distinct positives for residents in the form of local services and jobs.
But both also come with real challenges.