Supermarket rezoning opposed

CBD property owner and former shopkeeper Denise Worrill is “aghast” Clarence Valley Council will decide on a rezoning proposal for a fourth supermarket option in Maclean, almost two kilometres from the town centre, at a meeting this afternoon.

A proposal to rezone an area behind Clarence River Seafoods at Hogues Ln was passed by a CVC subcommittee last week, and will be debated at today’s full meeting of the CVC. The rezoning proposal covers a 3200sq m full-line supermarket and 226 car parking spaces on land owned by East Coast Pty Ltd.

CVC sub-committee members Pat Comben and Ian Tiley supported the rezoning.

The proposal is inconsistent with the Mid North Coast Regional Strategy and the CVC’s Lower Clarence Retail Strategy that recommends a new supermarket should be within Maclean’s established CBD.

“What was the purpose of spending $40,000 on a retail strategy study, if councillors are going to ignore its recommendations?” said Mrs Worrill, who ran the Toy Kingdom shop in Maclean for 16 years before retiring, and who still owns property in the CBD.

If the CVC decision makers think opposition to a supermarket separate to the Maclean CBD is abating “they must be on Mars,” she said. “I have been stopped many times in the street by people commenting that the absolute best plan for Maclean was a version of the Baker proposal, and why on earth did that not go ahead?

“I presume from now on that councillors will not spend a single extra dollar on any consultants and experts to advise them on future projects at all, as they obviously pay no attention to what the experts say.”

Cr Comben said he supported the rezoning application because it increased the options for Maclean residents.

“To cut out an option is not good, council can’t play God,” he said. “I want to make sure every possible option is put in front of Maclean.”

Cr Comben was aware of the consultants’ reports but said they didn’t fully recognise what a “very difficult” job it is for developers to get a supermarket going in Maclean. Someone had to risk their capital and a whole lot of effort and they wouldn’t take this decision lightly.

Some of the sites close to the CBD were considered too small for some developers, he said.

People didn’t realise “how marginal and how difficult” it was to get a supermarket up and running in Maclean .

If the rezoning application is successful it will then be possible for a development application to be made for the site.

Building a major supermarket away from the established CBD of an area has “split” many towns in the region, including Yamba, Ballina and Coffs Harbour, according to Ken Giese, a member of the Maclean Chamber Of Commerce subcommittee in support of a supermarket in the car park in Centenary Dr, connected to the CBD.

The Bi-Lo supermarket in Yamba has changed the style of shops in the more established CBD, and it was clear that people went to one area or the other when shopping, not both, said Mrs Worrill.

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