Alfresco dining could be on the menu on the Lake Illawarra foreshore this summer if an idea being pitched by Wollongong MP Paul Scully gains traction.
Mr Scully sees the potential of the site opposite Harvey Norman as being one of the city's great public spaces but does not want to see it sold off for development.
He is encouraging Property NSW to allow use of its King St, Warrawong landholding as a location for alfresco dining once COVID lockdown restrictions ease.
Mr Scully said making use of the area in such a way would benefit the community and economy in several ways.
He said it was an ideal location to be part of the mobile food vending trail Wollongong City Council is trying to develop.
"This is a 32 hectares overlooking one of our great bodies of water and the escarpment and it is underutilised," he said.
"A good first step to encourage a bit more activation of that site, in addition to my work to get the jetties repaired and reopened to the public, is a trial of some temporary food and beverage vending there subject to Property NSW agreement."
Mr Scully has written to the Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey about it. Ms Pavey has previously helped secure funding for repairs of the Lake Illawarra jetties.
Mr Scully would also like to see a master plan for the King Street site so it can be activated into one of Illawarra's great public spaces and tourism attractions.
"But I don't want to see the sale of that land and it being sold off to the highest bidder," he said.
"There is a lot of talk about outdoor dining. We are going to need that to help rebuild the hospitality sector locally, encourage the tourism sector and prepare for the UCI world championships next year.
"That shouldn't just be limited to the Wollongong CBD. All parts of the city should be able to partake in that. And what better location for the southern suburbs? Why wouldn't you want to sit down with family or friends and have a meal while looking at one or our most picturesque views?"
Mr Scully said alfresco dining was a great lifestyle feature of so many of the cultures.
He said when double dose vaccinations increase locally there will still be some restrictions on hospitality venues and the number of patrons they can accommodate inside. So why not make the most of a space with so much potential for recreation, tourism and ecological conservation to help the COVID economic recovery.
"I think it is one of our hidden gems," he said.
"It is the same size as Barangaroo in Sydney and it can be one of our great public spaces.".