Supermarket thumbs up

THE people of Maclean have spoken. They want a supermarket and urge the council to make it happen.

More than 250 people crammed into the Maclean Civic Centre on Tuesday night for a public meeting to revive the sale of the Maclean car park to make way for a large, full-line supermarket.

The majority voted for a recommendation that Clarence Valley councillors, at next week's council meeting, be urged to resurrect discussions on the sale or lease of the publicly-owned car park.

Just 11 people at the meeting voted against reopening the issue, sending a clear message to a number of councillors in the audience.

The meeting began with two 20-minute presentations by opposing developers, Holder Baker Enterprises and Woolworths Limited, to pitch their plans for the car park land, should it come back on the agenda.

Andrew Baker, of Holder Baker Enterprises, began cautiously.

“I'd like to get close to the door in case I need a quick exit,” Mr Baker said.

But his plans for a 3250 square-metre supermarket constructed above ground went down well with the audience.

He explained how the supermarket would be operated by Bob Little, of Spar Maclean, linked to the CBD and river front - and the green space of the car park, including trees, would be transferred across River Street to a new green space to be developed along the river.

“We own the bulk of the properties involved, and the council owns a bit, but we can only do it if the community wants it to happen,” Mr Baker said.

“It's up to the people who came along here tonight to make it happen.”

Woolworths spokesman Graeme Jones revealed its plans to construct a 3200 square-metre carbon-friendly supermarket at ground level.

Questions were then opened up to the floor and for more than two hours, passionate questions and statements were made by residents of Maclean and surrounding suburbs.

Concerns included ensuring the heritage status of the town remained, car park spaces were not lost, the need for competition, effects on Maclean businesses, green spaces and the core issue of selling public land for commercial use.

Just before 9pm, two motions were passed.

Next week the Maclean Chamber of Commerce will ask councillors to reopen discussions to sell the land.

It will also recommend all money raised from the sale or lease of the car park should remain in the Maclean area.

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