Friday, February 25, 2011

seville supermarket gets the go ahead

report from the roundtable - 22 feb

This week council had to consider the application and planning scheme amendment for the Seville Supermarket proposal which would see the development of a 3,150 square metre supermarket and 17 specialty shops.

The application has been before council in the past, firstly in Oct 2009 where council voted to request the Minister prepare a planning scheme amendment and again in Jul 2010, where council referred the application to a planning panel.

This time round council had to make a final decision on whether the supermarket should be given the go ahead. The Planning Panel had recommended to council that the proposal should proceed with some modifications to the planning permit.

Cr Warren moved a motion to support the planning scheme amendment and planning permit for the development of the supermarket.

Cr Heenan and myself tried to amend the motion to include a legal agreement that packaged liquor would not be sold on site. My concerns brought on by the planning panel who said "The Panel notes that the proposal does not contemplate the inclusion of a liquor outlet within the development.....The Panel observes that, given the importance of liquor sales to the viability of several of the smaller town centres, had a liquor outlet been included within the proposed development, it is possible the Panel may have come to a different conclusion."

Our move to include this condition was lost with only myself, Crs Heenan and Cliff supporting the restriction of alcohol sales.

In speaking against the motion Cr Warren moved I talked about the loss of residential zoned land close to a township and how important it was to retain residential land, which could provide very well located medium density housing close to the township.

I went on to talk about the recent flooding and that much of this land was not suitable for development (the recent flood event earlier in February saw a significant amount of this land inundated). Given the likelihood of more extreme and frequent weather events, the siting of the land so close to the Wandin Yallock Creek makes it a prime target for future inundation.

I had serious concerns about the economic impact for towns along the Warburton Highway. I am not convinced by the economic assumptions provided and I think that the addition of this supermarket will not increase the local economy but just see a substitution of spending from one area to another. It's not a growth area, there's very little population growth predicted for this region of the shire, in my view the ability to create additional economic growth is extremely limited. It is my view that the impact of this development would be felt in the townships of Wandin North, Woori Yallock, Launching Place, Yarra Junction, Millgrove, Wesburn, Warburton and on already existing businesses in Seville too.

I talked about the supermarket and specialty shops in Yarra Glen, a township with a population greater than Seville (approximately 3,000) where over 50% of the specialty shops still remain unoccupied, leading to a lack of vibrancy and amenity in that town. I think Seville will have a similar experience, for a township of only 2,077 it's hard to imagine how 17 specialty shops will be occupied and remain viable.

I was outraged that the development sought to use council land (road reserve) as a buffer to the development, it's a sign that there's too much crammed on the site when the developer can't fit a vegetation buffer on their own site.

We all know that the development will exacerbate already existing congestion problems in the town, but it came as no surprise to me that it was accepted by Vic Roads, who also had no problem with the Tecoma Supermarket.

There was an assertion that this was progress, well if big box retailers are progress I lament the future direction of the shire and our small rural towns.

I talked about our Municipal Strategic Statement, which maps out the long term direction about land use and development across the shire. The MSS is explicit in it's description of Rural Townships: "Seville, essentially dormitory residential areas with small commercial centres servicing local needs". How a 3,150 square metre big box retailer, along with 17 speciality shops, fits this direction is beyond me. It was clear that the development does not meet the strategic intent of our local planning policies.

This development will have ongoing and lasting amenity and quality of life impacts for the residents of Seville. It's a lovely rural town, the proposal is a complete overdevelopment and does not represent good orderly planning.

We councillors are the elected representatives of our community, we understand the Yarra Ranges implicity, far more than the planning panel. I urged councillors to vote against the motion, to see this development go ahead would be an absolute tragedy for our Shire.

When the vote was taken, 4 councillors voted in favour (Crs Warren, Higgins, Templer and Avery) while 4 councillors voted against (Crs Dunn, McRae, Cliff and Heenan), Cr Cox was absent from the chamber due to a declared Conflict of Interest.

Given the vote was deadlocked 4 for and 4 against the Mayor, Cr Avery, had to use his casting vote to determine the matter. In the past at the Shire of Yarra Ranges it has been custom and practice in a deadlocked vote for the Mayor to vote for the status quo, which in this case would mean no to the supermarket proposal. However Cr Avery chose to support the application for the supermarket to proceed (which he is within his right to do).

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