LOCAL HISTORY: A dormant Happy Jacks before a 2015 auction. BRENDAN McCARTHYLockwood residents will meet with City of Greater Bendigo representatives tonight in a bid to fast-track development of the historic Happy Jacks Emporium premises.

A Facebook pagehas urged residents to support the developmentby attending a local ward meeting tonight.

“We need people, in their droves, to attend this crucial meeting to show the Bendigo Council that we want Happy Jack’s to reopen,”a statement on the Facebookpage read.

The statement’s author,Lockwood resident Peter Lennon, said some in the community feared potentially expensive planning requirements could make it too hard for a local couple to finish developing the site.

Mr Lennon hoped a dialogue on cheaper solutions to some of council’s planning conditionswould help speed up the process.

Happy Jacks first opened in the mid 19th century,but fell on hard times and eventually closed.

In February 2015the store was bought bypeople on a neighbouring property. Theyhopedto reopen the general store with a takeaway restaurant and a small housing development.

At the time the owners told the Bendigo Advertiserthey hopedto reopen in November 2015.

Mr Lennon said he was lendinghis support to the developers after the project had slowed through the planning process.

“I was one of the people who were there when the property went to auction. When the shop was sold I asked the new owners what they wanted to do and they said they wanted to reopen the general store,” Mr Lennon said.

Mr Lennon said people in town were excited by the prospect of reopening.

Hesaid Lockwood currently had only a handful of public facilities which helped foster a sense of community, including the local school and public hall.

Local resident Sheridan Chandlersaid it would be great to have a local place where people could go for a quick feed or to buy the essentials like milk.

“It would be great to have that convenient way to grab takeawayand it not be awful and cold when we get home,” she said.

“My argument is that with the growth areas in Maiden Gully and Marong why should we miss out on those new facilities?”

Mr Lennon said tonight’s meeting would allow people to give their opinion and help both the developer and council work on ongoing issues.

The meeting takes place tonight at the Lockwood South Public Hall on the corner of Crusoe Road and the Calder Alternate Highway.

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