Leave us alone?: shoppers lukewarm on McConaghy

By JURIS GRANEY

THE now thriving Maclean CBD would become 'Dodge City at high noon' if a proposed $25 million shopping centre was built on the southern limits of the town.

The Daily Examiner conducted a street poll of about 20 people yesterday to gauge reaction to the Brisbane-based McConaghy Group's plan for a 3200-square-metre shopping centre and 20 speciality shops.

Many retailers said after some slim pickings over the past few years, business was now picking up, with the town bustling with shoppers.

"Tell them to leave us alone," one shopper said.

"We don't need a massive shopping complex, especially out of the town.

"We already have all the shops we need in town."

Another shopper said the town centre would never be the same again.

"It will die, the town will die, just watch it," she said.

Mick and Kay Marshall have witnessed first-hand what the creation of a shopping centre outside the CBD can do to a town. The Marshalls have owned nine butcher shops in Australia and travelled extensively overseas and believe the McConaghy development would decimate the town.

"I've seen it happen in Bundaberg, Glen Innes and even in the US," Mr Marshall said.

"The big shopping centre is built just out of town and all the businesses shut down because they have to.

"Where they are planning this (development) will force a lot of businesses in the retail strip to shut down, it's as simple as that.

"It is too far away for people to walk to, especially over that hill, so all the shoppers will drive to the complex because it is easier and everyone else will go out of business."

He also scoffed at claims the new centre would create 200 jobs, saying they would largely be those displaced by shops in town forced to close.

"At the best, those hired would be young people given minimum shifts so the big companies don't have to pay superannuation," he said.

Others were angered at the proposal.

"It is just not necessary," Peter Cox said.

"It will destroy the town."

The Four Square supermarket owner, Denise Ryan, said she might as well shut her doors now if the supermarket was to be built at its proposed location.

"It will wreck Maclean," she said. "With all those speciality shops going in there, you might as well shut Mackellys, the butchers, fruit shop and others. It is not just about a supermarket, it is about what it will do to the other businesses is the concern.

"We will all go out of business."

Gary Chee, from the local fruit shop, said the break up of the town would spell an end to a majority of retailers.

"It won't matter who it is, Littles (Spar Supermarket), me or the butcher shop, we might as well shut our doors all at the same time because if this goes ahead, it will be the end of the town as we know it," he said.



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