The $50m decision
By TOBY WALKER
THE long-awaited decision on the proposed $50million expansion of Grafton Shoppingworld could be made within a fortnight, but the Clarence Valley Council has refused to commit to a timetable yet.
Council's decision on the project has been put on hold in the past few months while consultants scrutinise the detail of the proposed development.
But it now looks as though the red tape is about to be peeled back any day, with council confirming independent consultant Environmental Resources Management (ERM) was putting the final touches to its report.
This week the Clarence Valley Council's planning and environment director Rob Donges said he hoped to publicly issue a seven-day timetable for the decision within a fortnight.
With a pecuniary interest in the sale of the Duke Street carpark, council has had to pass responsibility for the review of the proposed project to environmental consultant ERM.
The review process has been drawn out because ERM found it needed to employ a second independent consultant, Sydney-based company PDA Hill, to conduct a separate economic impact assessment.
Mr Donges anticipated the completed economic assessment would come from ERM in the next few days and hoped then to be able to issue the timetable that would ultimately end with the councillors final decision on the project.
Once ERM had handed in its final report, he said a day, most likely a Friday, would be set aside to allow all stakeholders to conduct an inspection of the site.
Proceedings would then continue back at council's Grafton chambers where representatives for Brisbane-based developer McConaghy Group would present their plans to council.
The floor would then be opened up to those who have made earlier submissions on the expansion proposal to address council.
FINALLY, consultant ERM will present the findings of its report before leaving the final consideration in the hands of the councillors.
Mr Donges envisaged the whole process would take up most of the day.
"I think that considering the history of this development application it's worth putting aside a few hours to give this the sort of consideration it needs," he said.
McConaghy Group managing director Robert McConaghy said it had been one of the longer development application processes his company had been through but understood that the proper procedures had to be adhered to to satisfy all stakeholders.
"Council has told us the decision was getting closer, and just like everyone else I expect, we're waiting with anticipation on a date to be set," he said.