31 May 2024

Thirroul Plaza developers start community consultation for new development vision

| Dione David
Join the conversation
SolidVoid founder Louis Goulimis with Thirroul Plaza Development's Zaccheri Forte outside Martin's Place Cafe

SolidVoid founder Louis Goulimis and Thirroul Plaza Developments’ Zaccheri Forte have started door-knocking Thirroul businesses for early input on a new development vision for Thirroul Plaza. Photo: Region.

The deadline has been extended for the first phase of what the Thirroul Plaza Development team said would be a long and comprehensive community consultation process to help create a new development vision and master plan for the site.

Until COB on Monday 10 June, the Illawarra community is invited to take the Big Ideas Community Survey to share thoughts for the master plan, which will inform a new proposal.

Thirroul Plaza Developments Pty Ltd has hired development manager SolidVoid to oversee the process.

SolidVoid founder Louis Goulimis said there were no wrong answers to the survey.

“It’s for the community to get involved and tell us what their ideas are, and they can be as big and as small as possible. It can be pie in the sky stuff, it can be ‘I don’t want residential’ or ‘I do want residential’ – that’s the kind of mix of feedback we’re getting at the moment,” he said.

“But the door won’t shut after this survey.”

READ ALSO He had $28 in his pocket and a lot of grit, now Jin Kim is opening up shop in Thirroul

Mr Goulimis said the current site, a large part of which is used by locals as a public car park, was a private holding and would be developed as such. But he stressed that the community would be taken “along for the journey”.

“We’re starting from scratch. We have learned from previous experience and have gone from zero community consultation to being open and transparent with the community, and we’re taking them along for the journey,” he said.

“We want to create something exceptional with the support of the community. That’s how I want to go into Council – with something under our arm that the community is behind.”

As part of this preliminary process, Mr Goulimis said he had talked into a dialogue with other stakeholders early, including members of the Thirroul Village Committee and Save Thirroul Village.

Thirroul Plaza Developments’ Zaccheri (Zacc) Forte has also begun a plan with Mr Goulimis to door-knock all businesses from Plus Fitness to Finbox to share information and gather early input.

“We’re still at the southern end of those businesses, but so far the interactions have all been quite positive,” Zacc said.

“We’re talking to people about what we’re doing, what they want to see and what they don’t want to see.

“In this process we’re starting to speak to people who’ve had ideas for a long time that they haven’t shared before.”

The hope is that thorough consultation will help the developers avoid a similar outcome to the one of October 2022, when the original Thirroul Plaza proposal was rejected by the Land and Environment Court (LEC).

Thirroul Plaza

The Big Ideas Community Survey has been extended from eight weeks to 10 to allow for more community input on Thirroul Plaza. Photo: Region.

Save Thirroul Village member Louise Wellington was pleased the community had been brought into the dialogue early.

“From our experience with the conversations we’ve had with the community, the previous proposal didn’t meet the planning requirements,” she said. “The main concerns were impact on the village by way of the addition of another set of traffic lights, the removal of street parking and the scale of the development that impacted sight lines to the escarpment.

“We’re hoping now that the developers have engaged a development manager and community engagement specialist, that they will continue to work through ideas for the site with the community.

“What makes Thirroul Village so successful is that you have a really active, vibrant high street with active shopfronts that encourage walkability. That creates a great environment for cafes and dining. It would be great to see a continuation of that.”

SolidVoid has received just shy of 800 responses to the survey so far, as well as numerous direct emails with comments, sketches, reports and statements from the public, and over 2800 hits on the project listing.

Among the survey’s 17 questions, it asks participants how they use the existing space, how it should look and how they want it to make them feel, and to ponder an example of a mixed-use shopping and residential area they love to visit.

“I’ve thought of places like Berry and Byron Bay where they don’t have big out-of-centre shopping centres that draw people underground,” Louise said.

“It celebrates people being out and about and in public spaces, and that creates a sense of community, connectedness and safety. I’m hopeful the developers will consider that as an option.”

READ ALSO Five minutes with Chris Henry, Blackbird Thirroul

Once the survey closes, SolidVoid will enter a month of deliberation with demographic consultants. Combining the survey data with lessons learned from the previous experience, a set of “community core values” will be developed to inform the next move.

These values, which Louis expects will be released to the community sometime in July, will inform briefs for the urban designer, architect, town planner, landscape architect and the rest of the consultant team.

Once SolidVoid has worked with the urban designer and town planner to devise a “built form”, the intention is to form a working group with representatives from a community cross-section to weigh in, considering feasibility and commerciality constraints.

“The community will be looped back in at certain design and development hold points throughout the process,” Louis said.

“It will be ‘This is what you’ve told us you preferred, this is how it translates into a design and this is how we’re going to take it a step further’. There will be a lot of talk before we let the ink dry.”

For more information visit Urban Talk or SolidVoid or take the Big Ideas Community Survey by COB on Monday 10 June.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Daily Digest

Want the best Illawarra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Illawarra stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.