Ideas flow on how council should use $500,000 to make Oak Road shopping strip more attractive

Kirrawee shopping strip business owners have a range of suggestions on how $500,000 for public domain improvements should be spent.

Ideas include better lighting and night-time ambiance, CCTV, comfortable seats, more convenient parking, re-phasing traffic lights on Princes Highway to improve traffic flow, stopping u-turns in Oak Road and "getting rid of those horrid planter boxes".

The $500,000 will be provided by the brick pit developer under a draft planning voluntary agreement (VPA), which Sutherland Shire Council has decided to adopt following public exhibition.

The VPA also includes provision of a 9000 square metre public park, a 1500 square metre multi-purpose space within South Village and $250,000 for Oak Road roadworks.

The park, designed for older and younger children, will include an inclusive playground, shaded picnic facilities, and pedestrian / cycle path, but no public toilets.

Work is well under way on the park, which is expected to be completed by Christmas, with the playground opening in October.

The council still has to decide whether to use the shopping centre space for community purposes, such as a library, or convert it into shops and use the rental income for other community purposes.

Only two formal submissions were made on the draft VPA, both from Oak Road business owners, whose names were withheld.

One owner wrote, "My concern is if nothing is done in this area, we will have more empty shops and it will become unsustainable for tenants to remain in this location".

"It has been a big struggle over the last 12+ months for the shops on this street and any assistance will be greatly appreciated by shop owners, I'm sure," the owner said.

Another owner said one landlord had been trying to rent a shop in Oak Road for eight months.

The owner called for more convenient car parking, hard spaced alfresco seating and social spaces, greenery and landscaping, lighting and evening ambiance and safe and level footpaths.

"Currently, there are eroding businesses and properties on Oak Road, who are pleading for government support and commitment," the submission said.

"It is critical to integrate the new development with the old main street to ensure that Kirrawee as a whole does not erode its consumer and business value.

"The Kirrawee town centre needs to flourish and become an active day time and vibrant night time destination."

Shop owners interviewed by the Leader said business conditions were difficult during the building of South Village, but they were hopeful of better times when the park opened and more residents moved in.

Cathy Pool, who has operated Kirrawee Flower Decorations for 30 years, said "hardly anyone" had moved into South Village.

"I have met only eight people from there, and they are saying only 80-90 have moved in," she said.

"A lot of people are saying Coles and Aldi are doing well but the other shops and restaurants are struggling."

Catherine Cuciti, the owner of gift store Regallo Kirrawee, is optimistic, and encouraged shoppers should check out the Kirrawee Village-Oak Road Facebook page.

"People have come back to our centre now that more parking is available, and the completion of the remainder of the units and the new park will make a big difference," she said.

"We are excited for the future. Some older businesses have been moving out and new blood is moving in."

Among the newcomers is Bird n Burger, replacing Kirrawee Charcoal Chickens.

A report on options for how the $500,000 should be spent will be prepared for the council to consider.