Lawson finally revitalised 16 years on

Clr Chris Van der Kley with one of the signs made during negotiations about the re-creation of Lawson.
Clr Chris Van der Kley with one of the signs made during negotiations about the re-creation of Lawson.

The final pieces are finally falling into place at Lawson.

Lawson shops in the process of being revitalised.

Lawson shops in the process of being revitalised.

The new-look Lawson today.

The new-look Lawson today.

Blue Mountains City Council has just allocated funds to build a staircase connecting the upper and lower levels of the new shops and one of the key properties, on the corner of Honour Avenue opposite the pub, is to become a tapas/wine bar and an organic fruit and vegetable shop.

Long-serving councillor Chris Van der Kley was happy to pose with one of the posters he souvenired some years ago when the local townsfolk protested against plans to knock the old shops down.

"After 16 years, it's just fantastic to see it all finished. And they didn't stop me," he said, referring to the group behind the "Stop Vandalkley" posters.

Fellow ward 2 councillor Romola Hollywood was equally delighted.

"It's exciting and wonderful to see Lawson coming alive again after many years with the roadworks and the rebuilding of the shops," Clr Hollywood said.

The redevelopment of the town was first mooted in the mid-1990s but had to be done in sync with the then RTA's highway widening process. So the demolition of the old shops started in 2008 and the first of the new shops was completed in 2011.

But council has waited until all the shops were built before finishing its share of the infrastructure. At its last meeting it accepted a tender for building the stairs as well as footpath and landscaping works from the highway through to Staples Crescent. It will cost $205,000.

A council spokeswoman said the project had had a long gestation period.

"The Lawson Town Centre redevelopment has been a massive and complex undertaking. That the council delivered the project on time and on-budget was no mean feat and is to be commended," she said.

"Key features of the town centre redevelopment are the town square, the village green with the innovative play equipment and the Welcome to Lawson entry statement, which, constructed from the bricks recovered from the old bakery, signifies council's commitment to the reuse of local heritage items during the redevelopment."

Mid Mountains Real Estate principal, Gary Brown, said the lease for the new tapas/wine bar and organic fruit and vege shop had just been signed but he did not know when the shop would open. He had also heard of a plan for a Thai restaurant in the village.

Lawrie Jurd, of the Tickled Pink Association, said he was, indeed, tickled pink with the new-look Lawson.

"It's 100 per cent on what was there before. When you look now at the old photos at that narrow little strip that carried the traffic - to think that people said we could get by without parking and keep those old shops. I think it's a wonderful set-up now."

Clr Van der Kley reflected on the long journey.

"It has taken us some 16 years to get this done. The amount of meetings, the amount of consultation - it went on and on and on but we are nearly there."

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