Eurobodalla Shire Council is preparing to call for expressions of interest to develop the former Batemans Bay Bowling Club site which sits on a central location in the town, before councillors ultimately decide its future.
“This is a key site and we want to see developers come up with something special. We want visionary stuff,” Eurobodalla Mayor Mathew Hatcher said.
“We’re not going to rush into anything – I can definitely say that.
“I think the whole town of Batemans Bay is going to have a cosmetic lift over the next 10 years and I think that site is really going to be key.”
Council bought the site which is on the Princes Highway next to the new Bay Pavilions complex in 2016 and is currently leased to Transport for NSW until the end of July 2022 as part of the Batemans Bay Bridge development.
Council’s property manager Andrew Greenway said council had previously engaged with the community and identified tourist accommodation, conference facilities, restaurants, cafes and residential accommodation as the preferred development options.
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Cr Hatcher said he was keen to let some big ideas flow from both developers as well as the community, and that it was important to do a lot of community consultation.
He has received emails from people wanting to see 5-star tourist accommodation as well as from those hoping for a larger art gallery.
Cr Hatcher described the former bowling club site as a key site because whatever was developed there was going to be one of the first things people see when they drive across the bridge into town.
“It’s going to tell you a lot about the town – it’s going to be the entrance to the town,” he said.
Also, he said Batemans Bay was growing and with an ageing population, as well as a lot of young families moving into the area, it was important to think about the needs of the community in the future.
Mr Greenway said the future of the site will be a matter for councillors to decide and will require a council resolution.
He said council previously sought expressions of interest in June 2021 and while he knew there was interest in the site, no formal expressions were received.
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“This time, we’ll engage a commercial real estate agent to secure proposals for purchase and development,” he said.
“This does not bind council in any way to any course of action. Instead, the results will be presented to councillors for their consideration on the property’s future.”
Once appointed, the real estate agent will make more information publicly available.
But Batemans Bay Business and Tourism Chamber president David Maclachlan said the former bowling club site was one of the largest pieces of property left to develop in the Bay and councillors should give an indication of what they wanted there before expressions of interest were sought.
“You’ve got to have a plan for the site, you can’t just throw it up in the air,” he said.
“The councillors should view it and have a say on it.”
There also should be proper consideration of what the Bay needed, he said.
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“Both Batemans Bay and the shire’s economic and social challenges should be considered when planning for that site,” Mr Maclachlan said.
When asked what ideas the chamber had, he said the town still didn’t have a multi-use venue, for example for trades and art shows, and had a lack of indoor sporting facilities.
“It’s a significant gateway site that impacts on Batemans Bay and could be used to addressed some of the challenges we have,” he said.