DECISION IN MAY

By TOBY WALKER

THE amended development application for a $50 million refurbishment of Grafton Shoppingworld is unlikely to be considered by the Clarence Valley Council until at least May.

With reports from the Roads and Traffic Authority and CVC engineers still to be submitted, the development application is yet to go before an independent assessor.

According to the CVC's manager for development services, Clem Rhoden, the council will follow exactly the same procedure as it did for McConaghy's original Shoppingworld application.

Once council has concluded its internal assessments of McConaghy's revised plans, the development application will be passed to independent planning consultants, Port Macquarie-based Environment Resource Management.

Along with the council's own assessments will be a number of public submissions on the proposed extensions made to council in the last six weeks.

It would then be left to ERM to examine all existing building and planning legislation pertaining to the proposed development before making its own recommendations.

Mr Rhoden was hopeful ERM's final review of the project and its opinions on the overall impact on the town would be finalised and submitted to the CVC for consideration in time for its May meeting but said the timeframe remained 'optimistic'.

According to Mr Rhoden, about 50 public submissions would be passed on to ERM.

He said the submissions indicated community opinion on the proposed development was still evenly divided, with roughly half in support and half against.

Since the new Shoppingworld plans, depicted at right, were unveiled in February by Brisbane-based developer McConaghy Group, the proposed extensions have continued to generate public debate.

Some are concerned about the CVC surrendering public land to allow the extension to go ahead while others believe an expanded shopping centre will severely impact businesses on Prince Street.

Their views are countered by those of the development's supporters who welcome the creation of more jobs in Grafton, believe more specialty retailers will stop people travelling to Coffs Harbour to shop and feel increased competition will mean better prices.

Yesterday McConaghy Group managing director Robert McConaghy said the company had supplied additional technical information to the CVC.



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