Former Westfield worker sees potential in Nelson Bay town centre as Port Stephens Council reviews building heights

POTENTIAL: Corlette resident Richard Casey said the golden rule for retail was population. He disagrees with TRRA when it says Nelson Bay is a village. Picture: Sam Norris
POTENTIAL: Corlette resident Richard Casey said the golden rule for retail was population. He disagrees with TRRA when it says Nelson Bay is a village. Picture: Sam Norris

Corlette resident Richard Casey is fed up with the Tomaree Ratepayers and Residents Association’s claim that it speaks for everyone on the peninsula when it says ‘no’ to 10 storeys in Nelson Bay. 

“Does 200 people really speak for the bulk of people on the peninsula, because they don’t represent me,” he said.

“Talking with my neighbours, they don’t agree with TRRA either.”

Mr Casey retired from the Westfield Group to Corlette three years ago. In this role he worked as a senior manager in the development of the executive group and became well versed in the companies shopping centre strategies.

While TRRA has vehemently opposed any variation to building heights in the Nelson Bay town centre, Mr Casey said it had real merit.

“The golden rule for any retail is population,” he said.

“What Nelson Bay has that’s different from shopping centres is the marina, the restaurants and the tourists but it needs more residents.”

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Having played tennis with a few TRRA members Mr Casey said there was an attitude of “not in my backyard” –  NIMBY for short – where a parochial few didn’t want population growth.

“The comment was ‘we don't need any more people on the peninsula’, they want to keep it as a village,” he said.

“But when I think of a village what comes to mind is something from a UK travel brochure. Nelson Bay already has significant sized buildings, I don’t think you could call it a village.”

Not that he wants open slather either.

“I don’t want to see the place become the Gold Coast either but it’s not big enough to support it anyway,” he said.

“But if we need to go higher than five storeys to attract the development and more people to support business then we should.”

TRRA president Geoff Washington said responsible development should be encouraged.

“We’re certainly not NIMBYs,” he said.

“In the last three to four years we have become involved with Nelson Bay Now, where he have made every effort to join with the Tomaree Business Chamber and others to look at the issues facing Nelson Bay.

“Yes, there may be people who want to point the finger but maybe they should come to some of our meetings and see what we’re about. I reject any suggestion we’re out of touch.”

Mr Washington said it was a challenge to attract new members, especially younger ones.

“I’ll admit that a lot of our members are older but if you go to any civil organisation, you will find that’s the case,” he said. “We’ve made every effort to include younger people but they’re absolutely flat out.”

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