From the Newsroom

Work has finally begun to repair shopfronts and reattach awnings in Maclean’s River Street, 12 months after the scaffolding was first erected. Image: Fran Dowsett

Finally progress on Maclean scaffolding

Rodney Stevens


After a year of unsightly scaffolding hindering businesses in Maclean’s River Street work has finally begun to reconstruct shopfronts and re-attach awnings to the NSW Heritage listed buildings.

Campbells Construction Co owner Ben Campbell said when he heard about the job, he was keen to do the work to help improve and beautify his hometown.

With Council believing the shopfront fascia was threatening to collapse from the awning tension rods, Mr Campbell said they were advised many businesses across NSW originally had posts outside all shops along the street to hold shopfront awnings, until a child got crushed between a car and a post in a NSW town many years ago, and the Maclean Shire Council and many other councils acted to remove the streetside posts in the 1960s.

The Clarence Valley Independent has been told the project took longer than anticipated to get to this stage due to delays in erecting further scaffolding, time waiting for a report from an engineer specialised in repairs to earthquake-damaged buildings, getting the multiple owners to agree on work, and ensuring the work carefully attempted to conserve the heritage values of the facade.

Before they could start work on the shopfront repair work two weeks ago, the previously completed make safe works required modification.

Mr Campbell said this involved erecting additional scaffolding and installing plywood hoarding with lighting to assist shoppers and other pedestrians.

Due to the shops being heritage listed, Mr Campbell said all work must attempt to carefully conserve the facade as required by the Clarence Valley Local Environmental Plan 2011.

“There’s about seven different owners there and planning controls for heritage items to deal with and getting repair specifications then everyone to agree on the conservation work has taken longer than anticipated,” he said.

The engineering and construction work to rectify the fascia of the shopfronts and re-attach the awnings is very technical, Mr Campbell said, with engineers working on the final design.

“We virtually have to build a new strong building behind the existing brick wall, to then pull the brick work back straight, so it can be attached to a new roof structure behind the existing one,” he said.

Maclean locals and business owners will be pleased to hear that the scaffold could be removed in time for the Christmas holidays, and several car parking spaces taken up by the site will return.

“The job should take between 12 to 15 weeks to complete, depending on the weather,” Mr Campbell said.

Blueberries Smoothies and Health Bar owners Adrian and Michele Giffin said for 12 months the scaffolding has been a blight on River Street, but they are excited work has begun and hope it leads to the beautification of Maclean’s CBD.

Mr Giffin said they moved from a smaller premises in River Street to their current location five months before the scaffolding was erected, tripling their seating capacity, and initially doubling their takings.

“It was a pretty viable little business that was going really well and then the scaffolding went up and I’d have to say we’d be back to the same sort of takings we were getting at the old shop,” he said.

“Now everybody seems to dodge the area because people don’t want to go near the scaffolding and not having any parking spaces out the front really hurts us.”

Without the support of locals, who Mr Giffin said have been consistent with their patronage, the situation which led to the closure of nearby Tartan Pizza could have been dire for the Giffins.

“The locals have been great, they know we’re doing it a bit tough, so they park up the road a bit and walk down to spend a bit with us,” he said.

“With the scaffolding the tourists and the holidaymakers who don’t know we’re here can’t see us because their line of sight is obscured, so we have put up signs on the fencing out the front and fairy lights to make the shop stand out.”

Mrs Giffin said since the additional scaffold was erected, and business has declined she is now worried that she won’t be able to guarantee working hours for her staff.

Clovelly Fashions owner Bev Anderson said for the past 12 months including last Christmas her trade has been down due to the scaffolding and although her business is on the other side of the street, she said many locals are happy work has finally begun.

“People look up the street and see a construction site, so they don’t want to come down to the shop,” she said.