By ADRIAN MILLER
IN the end it was almost anti-climatic.
After 10 years, countless drafts and thousands of man hours, the $50million redevelopment of Grafton Shoppingworld was approved unanimously by the Clarence Valley Council in Grafton yesterday.
While the extraordinary meeting held to decide the fate of the proposal lasted more than two hours, it took less than half-an-hour of debate for councillors to arrive at their decision.
After hearing deputations from interested parties throughout the morning, council agreed to support the proposal with minor alterations. Those alterations included increasing disabled car parks to 21 and increasing a paved footpath to a width of three metres.
Mayor Ian Tiley said although the decision had weighed heavily on the minds of councillors, they believed it was the right one to make.
"I'm very happy and I believe the council is very happy and I believe the citizens of the Valley will be very happy with the news," Cr Tiley said.
"We have some wonderful outcomes. We've got 350 additional jobs, we've got 620 new carpark spaces, we've got 1250 square metres of additional shopping centre, two supermarkets, 30 shops and it's all within the CBD area, so it's great for our Valley and great for our city."
McConaghy Group managing director Robert McConaghy said the company was very happy with the outcome.
"Obviously this is a big part of the planning process and we are very grateful to the council and the people of Grafton for their support. I thank them for it," he said.
The biggest issue facing councillors was the area linking the new development to Prince Street.
The design provides for an arcade-style link between the main street and Shoppingworld, but traders were calling for a travelator, planned for the middle of the development, to be moved west to Prince Street.
Prince Street Traders chairman Graham Feltham said this would provide direct access from the main street to the shopping centre.
"There is no public benefit to the travelator remaining on the east side," he said. "We would like to see it moved to the western side."
However, Mr McConaghy said it was not possible to change the design and to do so would put the whole project at risk.
"If we shift it to the west side of Duke Street it would be in the middle of a supermarket downstairs and retail shops upstairs," he said. "It's located where it is because it will benefit customers shopping in the shopping centre and businesses in the main street."
An amendment supporting the proposal, but moving the travelator closer to Prince Street, was voted on by council but votes were tied at 4-all until the mayor used his casting vote to defeat the amendment.
Once the main issue of the extensions was decided, council had to consider the approval of the construction of a carpark on Pound Street, the sale of Duke Street carpark to the McConaghy Group and the closure of Duke Street. All were passed unanimously.