The Mercury- Go Slow Urged For Willow Court Plans

GO-SLOW URGED FOR WILLOW COURT PLANS 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 there.

The agenda for Thursday night’s meeting will also consider 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 has 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 Mercury to Friends of Willow Court deputy chairman Tony Nicholson.

Project architect Thomas Bailey, left, and New Norfolk Distillery director Justin Derksen on site of the proposed distillery and cellar door at Willow Court in New Norfolk. Picture: FIONA HARDING
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 proposed 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. This is not a criticism of others,” he said.

The announcement of plans for a new distillery at New Norfolk follows a Derwent Valley Employment report by the Tasmanian Council of Social Service in May, which showed around 30 per cent of residents surveyed said there was a lack of jobs in the region.

New Norfolk Distillery director Justin Derksen said the idea to create Tasmania’s first rum distillery in over 150 years came from a desire to see a positive change in New Norfolk and “bring new life” to the region.

“Living and working in New Norfolk, our family has strong ties to the region and we are really excited about the prospect of bringing a new business to the area that we hope both locals and visitors will enjoy year-round,” he said.

Head chef Ali Currey-Voumard and Rodney Dunn of the Agrarian Kitchen Eatery at Willow Court. Picture: MATHEW FARRELL
Agrarian Kitchen co-founder Rodney Dunn said the Willow Court precinct 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.

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 for the sites development.

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