In early September 2013, WCC published a development application (DA) from two businesswoman to establish markets on Thirroul Beach. The markets were proposed to operate on each Saturday for a twelve month trial period. The location was quoted as Tingara Park. This area, as shown here in the original proposal, is directly behind the Thirroul Surf Club.
The proponents presented their case for the markets in a high quality colour brochure. The Council called for submissions from the community within three weeks.
Murray Jones, Secretary of the TVC tried to discuss the matter with Paul Tuckerman, TVC President and Gary Chapman, TVC Vice-President. Murray found that Paul was on holidays on a train somewhere close to Uzbekistan and Gary was involved in charity work in the Phillipines. The next TVC meeting was in seven weeks, so Murray decided to gather some opinions from other TVC members before acting. Some were in favour, mainly because of the opportunity to set up stalls to sell locally made handcrafts and art works. Many, especially those living close to Beach, were opposed. Their main concerns were damage to this popular picnic area and additional traffic, noise and litter.
Nancy Kettley and Beryl Davis, long time beachside residents and TVC members took it upon themselves to organise a petition opposing the markets. They dropped copies at the fifty five businesses in Thirroul and asked them to collect signatures. Nancy reported that all bar one took on the task of collecting a total of around 300 signatures. These were collected and sent to Council in Beryl and Nancy’s separate submission.
Murray received advice that the market proponents had circulated an invitation to all stall holders at the Dapto Markets to participate in the upcoming Thirroul Beach Markets. Murray also received a letter from the Thirroul Branch of the Labour Party which strongly objected to the commercialisation of the Thirroul’s primary beach picnic area. Given a majority of local opposition, Murray prepared a TVC submission to Council, opposing the markets. Key issues were identified as;
• Tingara Park is fully utilised in summer months by picnickers.
• A better site for the markets would be Bulli Showground, where the facilities and paved surface are more suitable for markets. Also, Bulli has limited retail facilities therefore the markets at that location may have less local trader opposition.
• Thirroul has difficulty handling the volume of traffic that already eventuate every Saturday, and, with a single road in and out of Thirroul, this problem shows no sign of abating.
Murray tried to contact the businesswoman behind the DA to discuss a compromise proposal modelled on the St Kilda Markets in Melbourne. These markets have been successful on the St Kilda Beach Promenade, since the 1970’s. There, each stall holder must produce the goods for sale. This style of markets could gain local acceptance, especially if the location was near the beach but not on the prime picnic area. The DA proponents declined to talk directly, but communicated via text messages where it was stated; “I am hesitant to discuss issues related to the market due to the negativity and untruths that have been circulated on social media. I wholeheartedly believe in a democratic process so with that said I feel it would be best to leave the decision with council.”
On Wednesday, December 4, 2013, WCC staff announced that they had accepted the DA for the Markets. However, given the level of community concern, acceptance was subject to a review by the Independent Hearing and Assessment panel (IHAP). The panel could not overturn the Councils decision, but could add additional conditions of consent. The panel was convened to meet on the following Tuesday December 10, 2013 at 5.30pm. Any member of public who nominated their attendance could speak for up to three minutes. The proponents of the DA were then given the opportunity to speak. TVC members networked to find suitable speakers.
Ten people spoke against the DA. One Thirroul Trader quoted specific figures that revealed a 30% loss in revenue on the days of the Monthly Coledale markets. Mr. Commelli, in his unique persuasive style that is "hard to refuse", extended this impact to the majority of Thirroul traders. Other speakers pointed out what they beleived to be mis-leading aspects of the original application for the Markets.
Murray supplied each of the four panel members with a series of photos taken of Thirroul Beach on a busy day in 2006. These photos, as below in the IHAP-presentation-2.doc.pdf, show the premium that picnicker place on the sections of the reserve that are covered in shade from the large pine trees that surround Tingara Park. Conversely, the photos showed that the unshaded southern section of Thirroul Beach was not in use, even on a busy day. Given that each market trader brings his own shade shelter, Murray proposed that the area south of the Thirroul Olympic Pool could provide a compromise location for the Markets.
Two days later the IHAP report (IHAP-Markets-decision.pdf as below), in a unanimous verdict, amended the DA to locate the markets south of Thirroul Pool and limited the goods on sale to be those that did not compete with current Thirroul Traders. Several weeks later, the proponent withdrew their DA and indicated that they would prepare a DA for new markets to be located at Bulli Show Ground.