Murray Bridge’s oldest neighbourhood may soon become its newest frontier.
The Murray Bridge council and the State Government are considering developing the riverfront area between the Round House and the silos, albeit on a modest scale.
The council has held early discussions with residents about building tourist infrastructure or up to 30 new houses along Hume Reserve Road, while the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) plans to add 10 new residential allotments behind the Round House.
There are currently fewer than a dozen inhabited homes in the area plus historic buildings associated with the railway and the Edwards family, the first Europeans to settle in the area.
The site is also an important traditional meeting place for the Ngarrindjeri people.
DPTI has lodged a development application that would subdivide the southern end of the precinct with the council’s support.
“A redevelopment proposal has been formulated by DPTI that incorporates the upgrade of the five cottages (and) retention of the two houses and rail buildings,” a spokeswoman said.
“There will also be a low density residential land development consisting of 10 allotments, which will be offered for sale with the five cottages.”
An escarpment between the cottages and the river, including the disused railway line running down to the wharf, would become a public reserve.
The development would also create two roads: Pomberuk Court, named after the Ngarrindjeri word for the area, and Ambler Lane, after the inaugural foreman of a locomotive shed that once stood there.
Derek Exton, leader of the Murray Bridge and District Historical Society’s efforts to restore three former railway buildings near the Round House, said the development would not be all bad.
“When they do their subdivision, we get all new electricity mains and plumbing water to the buildings we’re renovating,” he said.
“We hope they keep at it.”
Residents of Hume Reserve Road, at the precinct’s northern end, reportedly indicated at a meeting last week they would be willing to accommodate the development of the area, but ideally for tourism rather than housing.
Among them was local historian Steve Moritz, an advocate for the area’s preservation, who was relieved the cottages and neighbouring open space would stay.
“What’s happening is not ideal, but it’s a good compromise,” he said.
“If you built the whole area out with quarter-acre blocks you’re going to kill the whole area from a heritage point of view.”
Consultants for the council were also looking at areas to the west and south of Murray Bridge as possible sites for future expansion.
Residents in those areas have already been contacted about meetings to be held with Jensen Planning and Design in the next fortnight.
However, the broader public would likely need to be consulted before land zoning could be changed to accommodate any significant development.
Murray Bridge had a population of 16,000 in 2011, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and continues to grow by 1.6 per cent, or about 250 people, each year.