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May 13, 2021

Future of Bruns fish co-op site still up in air

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Brunswick Heads fish coop currently under renovation. Photo Aslan Shand.
Brunswick Heads fish coop currently under renovation. Photo Aslan Shand.

The recent closure of Brunswick Heads Seafood, previously the old fish co-op, has led to a range of questions regarding the development of the site.

Owner William Silverman of Whistle Funds Management bought the business 16 months ago and according to an ex-staff member he said at the time that ‘all our jobs are safe and that they would continue to run the business as was.’

Mr Silverman recently closed the co-op, saying it was no longer a viable business owing to lack of cooperation from Crown Lands. He said, ‘We are unable to sustain financial losses without some clear guidelines and encouragement from the authorities in NSW government’ (Echonetdaily June 19, 2017 echo.net.au/brunswicks-iconic-fish-coop-closes-today).

However, the ex-staff member claimed that ‘from two months in they started over-extending the business.’

Two days’ notice

Staff were given two days’ notice that the co-op was closing, with two weeks’ wages in lieu, he said.

‘The way they went about it was really bad,’ continued the staff member. ‘If they had given us more notice we would have had time to look for other jobs.

‘For some families they had up to four people who lost their income at the same time.

‘The co-op crew ran it for around fifty years, then [the new owners] managed to run it into the ground in 16 months.’

Mr Silverman is currently accusing Crown Lands, which owns the land that surrounds the site, of not being responsive to his ‘vision for a simple working port with food hospitality jobs and training for young people and community centre. A place for people to come and enjoy simple things like boating, fishing, kayaking and a showcase of local produce for locals and tourists.’

Following a recent meeting with Crown Lands Mr Silverman said that he had ‘confirmed that the [Brunswick] MasterPlan is a sham.’

The Department responded by saying that it has listened to Mr Silverman’s concerns and will consider these along with responses from other stakeholders in the area as it continues to develop the Brunswick Heads Masterplan.

Mr Silverman was scheduled to present his vision of of the site to the Brunswick Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday July 18.

Mayor Simon Richardson, who also recently met with Mr Silverman regarding the challenges he is facing with the site, said that he believed ‘they are very resolvable.’

The site is currently under renovation, with asbestos being removed. There has been no statement from Mr Silverman on whether or not the renovations will lead to a re-opening of the business.

For more information on asbestos see here.

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  1. Mr Silverman is within his rights as a developer to develop the site within the permissible uses of its zoning. In full knowledge that the 3,500sqm of freehold land is landlocked, he will have continuous use rights over Crown Land to access the private holding. However, I hope that Mr Silverman is not of the opinion that public land, be it Crown Land or Council’s road reserve lands are used to support whatever commercial enterprise is visioned for the 3,500sqm?


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