Murray Bridge council watch: February 2021

Housing growth outstrips expectations, railway history is preserved and the silos reopen under new management.

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More than $15.5 million worth of new homes were approved in the Murray Bridge district during the second half of 2020, the city’s council has revealed.

The figure was 50 per cent higher than the council had expected, and came on top of $49.2 million worth of industrial and commercial development.

Mayor Brenton Lewis said there was a lot to like about Murray Bridge’s recent progress.

“The growth in Murray Bridge over the last 24 months has been incredible, considering we had the fire at Thomas Foods International (in 2018) and the end result of the loss of basically 1700 jobs,” he said at the council’s February meeting.

“We’ve still grown, and the request for housing through this last 20 months or so is incredible.

“It’s a story I’d like to see told more about Murray Bridge.”

Things would only improve further as Thomas Foods started to recruit staff for their new facility, attracting people who wanted to live, work and raise their families in Murray Bridge, he said.

Plenty of other major developments were underway, too.

“I counted five cranes, and I mean serious cranes, in the sky one day in Murray Bridge about five or six weeks ago,'“ he said.

“We would be the envy of a lot of other regional and rural centres.”

More than 80 new homes were approved locally between July and December, plus dozens more renovations.

Railway buildings’ future assured

Four historic buildings in Murray Bridge’s railway precinct will be protected forever under a management plan drafted by the city’s council.

Decades of uncertainty ended on June 30 of last year, when the state Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure gave the buildings – near the Round House – to the council.

Now the two former railway control rooms, a signalman’s cottage and the old Railway Institute are used by community groups including the local historical society, the River Murray Football League and Bridge Arts.

The community land management plan drafted by the council will set standards for the maintenence of the buildings and surrounding gardens, which future councils will have to uphold.

Members of the public will be given a chance to offer feedback on the plan during a coming consultation period.

The Round House itself, built in 1876, was already under council control; and the surrounding land was handed over to the Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal Corporation in 2019, two years after the traditional owners were granted native title over the area.

Silos re-open under new management

Murray Bridge’s grain silos are being used again, a year after Viterra announced they would not re-open for the 2020-21 harvest.

Sun-Pork Farms and the Big River Feed Mill have approached the city’s council about using the silos near the railway line after taking out a five-year lease.

The council had voted last June to close Hume Reserve Road to large trucks.

They will now be allowed back in again.

Up to 500 trucks are expected to pass through during the next harvest, but only a couple of residents will be affected by the dust and noise.