New Italy during construction of the Pacific Highway upgrade. Now plans for a service centre next door are progressing.
New Italy during construction of the Pacific Highway upgrade. Now plans for a service centre next door are progressing.

Will a New Italy service centre destroy Woodburn businesses?

Residents and business owners are divided on whether a service centre should be built on the Pacific Highway at New Italy.

There have been rumours about the proposal for years, but a development application has never been lodged, and a service centre was recently built 50km up the road at Ballina.

However a DA may be lodged in the near future.

Peter Blackwood from the New Italy Museum said they had been in close discussions with the developer and believed the paperwork was almost finished.

"We think this is good news, and most of the community is of this view," he said.

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"There are always opposing views and we are certainly aware of the issues, but the museum believes there are distinct advantages to having a service centre here.

"The developers have been fairly forthright with us about their plans, and part of the arrangement is for us to sell part of our land.

"Our location is already unique, we have a unique attraction here."

Woodburn business owner and former chamber of commerce board member, Glenn Costello, agreed a service centre was a good idea.

He said it would create more jobs and drive healthy competition.

"It will promote our whole region," he said.

"We have to look at the big picture the museum is already one of the biggest attractions in the Richmond Valley and having a service centre there will just add to it."

Tania Hundy from the newly reopened Woodburn IGA said she had not heard too much about the proposal for the New Italy service centre.

But she did have some initial concerns and said she would speak to other business owners in the area.

"We've just spent a lot of money getting the shop back up and running," she said.

"I think a service centre there (at New Italy) would definitely have an impact on Woodburn."

 

New Italy resident Geoff Paull is not happy about the prospect of the Benzina company building a service centre next to the New Italy Museum.
New Italy resident Geoff Paull is not happy about the prospect of the Benzina company building a service centre next to the New Italy Museum.

New Italy resident Geoff Paull has been vocal in his opposition to the plans for years.

He has called on people to express their concerns to their Richmond Valley councillors, the New Italy Museum and the Woodburn Chamber of Commerce.

He also set up a Facebook page, New Italy Proposed Service Centre, where detailed his concerns.

While Mr Paull does live near the proposed site, he said he was also worried about the effect a New Italy service centre will have on businesses in Woodburn.

"Woodburn has been through a lot the bypass, the leaving of the workers and of course the threat of a service centre so close," he said.

"The service centre will employ people, however it will put people out of work.

"The best way to get people to stop is a vibrant Woodburn."



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