This proposed development application (DA/2016/169/1 - showing the original plan) has been working through Camden Council since February last year. My understanding is that it has been returned a few times to the applicant for changes. The aim is to produce a structure that includes five new restaurants, a function centre and car parking.
This is a very significant and quite bulky development at the gateway to Camden. To give readers some context, the location of the old Dairy Farmers Co-op was named in the Camden Town Centre Vision 2014 report as a key-site for Camden and it was suggested that special zoning be introduced to allow for its development. As far as I'm aware, that zoning has not yet come before the Council.
The key consideration with this development is that it will be the first significant building that will be seen by visitors coming along Camden Valley Way as they arrive in Camden. It is essentially a gateway development. The size of the building also means it will obscure the Dairy Co-op. For this reason its design is crucial and should be in sympathy and representative of the character of the town.
Camden is a relatively successful township in terms of retail, small business, and visitor numbers. This is due in large part to its unique character, which has recently attracted a range of new and quite vibrant enterprises. If this new building turns out to be inconsistent with the character of Camden, it will immediately change the first impressions and even sense of Camden as visitors arrive. Its design could also potentially set a precedent that will likely encourage other developments of an inconsistent type. If that occurs, the unique character of Camden in the Sydney basin, which is its economic strength, will disappear.
In terms of the future of Camden, this one building potentially has a huge flow-on impact. Clearly, Council officers have some concerns as it is over a year since this development application was submitted, so its future is not guaranteed. Even with that in mind, all Camden residents and business owners should watch this closely.