THE Bathurst Business Chamber has welcomed the news that a business is finally going to breathe some life into the former Masters Home Improvement site in Kelso.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that Harvey Norman would relocate from its long-held site on the corner of Ashworth Drive and the Great Western Highway to the old Masters building.
While it won't occupy the entire building, it will have 2945 square metres of retail floor space, plus a 1560 square metre warehouse.
The development application was approved the day after it was lodged with Bathurst Regional Council, with the plans fast-tracked to enable Harvey Norman to open the doors by July 1.
Bathurst Business Chamber president Catherine Fitzsimons said there is nothing worse for a regional city than empty shopfronts, particularly for big sites like the old Masters building.
To have Harvey Norman relocate and expand is good news for Bathurst.
"Anything that's going to encourage business in Bathurst is going to receive chamber support and endorsement," Ms Fitzsimons said.
"The fact that someone at last is moving into that site will help other businesses in that area as well, so that's going to breathe life into a resource that has just unfortunately gone to waste, and that is something we don't like to see."
The move also signals to the chamber that Harvey Norman is doing well in Bathurst in what has been some tough economic times.
"If Harvey Norman's outlook for the region and for Bathurst in the centre of this part of the region is so positive that they would invest in significantly larger premises and they would want to have a bigger footprint here, that should be encouraging to other businesses as well to see that such an important retailer is viewing the growth and the continuing consumer demand within this area so positively," Ms Fitzsimons said.
She also understands the old site won't end up an "empty corner" after the Harvey Norman relocates.
Additionally, The Gateway development across from the existing premises is coming along nicely and there is excitement building about the businesses that could move into there.
"All around from a business view it's good news for Bathurst," Ms Fitzsimons said.
She is also pleased that Harvey Norman will be increasing staff numbers, employing more people in the Bathurst community, and hopes it will lead to increased job opportunities for people in nearby businesses.
"I think we're going to see a trickle down effect to other businesses, because of greater traffic in that area," she said.