SHOPPERS will have to wait until the middle of 2016 for a second supermarket to start operating in Maclean if a new Ritchies Supa IGA proposal is approved by Clarence Valley Council.
Ritchies chief executive officer Fred Harrison told a public meeting at Maclean Bowling Club the new development application had been submitted to council on Tuesday.
Mr Harrison and his team faced heated questioning from audience members frustrated that the already long-running saga will be extended further and that the latest proposal still doesn't meet some of their concerns about parking, open space, or even if the supermarket should be located in the heart of the town.
The possible opening date in July 2016 was met with surprise and disappointment by many in the audience.
"Unfortunately it's not a Meccano set that goes up very easily and it does take time to build, that's the reality," Mr Harrison said.
"That's why it's important tonight that we come and tell it as it is, rather than circulate emails."
The proposal is a major change from the existing DA, with the underground car park removed and the position of the supermarket in Cameron Park altered.
Moving the site of the 2000sq m supermarket would see many of the existing parking spaces retained, while Ritchies has purchased land in Argyle St that it proposes to give to the council for the construction of extra car parks.
Just over 300sq m of space used for the supermarket and parking in the existing DA would go back to open space in the new proposal.
The new DA is likely to be considered by the council next month and the rezoning required means the approval process could take up to a year, with construction unlikely to start until late 2015.
Mr Harrison said if the council rejected the new DA, the company would build its supermarket to fit the existing approval.
Responding to a question from the owner of Maclean's Spar supermarket, Bob Little, Mr Harrison explained the thinking behind the changes his company was seeking.
"We prefer not to have the underground car parking ... with ramps and people walking around the site to the undercover parking," he said.
"I think we all acknowledge grade parking is easier and more convenient ... and easier for people with incapacities.
"We lower the height [of the building] and we're building the store [to last] for 50 years."
Mr Harrison also said the new plan for car parking would make the area easier to negotiate for drivers and pedestrians than what is proposed in the existing plan, while access for large trucks delivering to the supermarket - expected to be one per day - would be improved.
With car parking in Maclean already scarce, residents were keen to find out the number of spaces available during construction of the supermarket and when it is operating.
Ian Williamson, whose business has designed the new version of the supermarket, said there were 201 existing car spaces.
Under the approved DA there would be 225 spaces available, including 54 the council would build in Cameron Park, while the new proposal has 135 spaces in the main car park and 72 in the Argyle St car park, a total of 207.
The new plan would mean fewer parking spaces would be taken up while the supermarket is built. Mr Harrison said it the new supermarket could employ about 120 people, and the company would try to make its four cents per litre fuel discount offer available at Maclean.