Woolworths expansion blocked in Mackay and inner Sydney

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 23rd June 2008

The Supreme Court has approved Mackay Regional Council’s decision to oppose the development of a Woolworths supermarket earmarked for a site opposite Northern Beaches Shopping Centre.

Councillor Di Hatfield, who handles Council’s Planning and Development portfolio, claims this decision vindicated the Council’s planning scheme. “The appeal judges in their decision have reinforced co-ordinated growth within the appropriate land zones and defence of the orderly development of commercial and retail centres throughout the council area,” she said.

In 2006, Mackay City Council rejected Woolworths’ proposal to build on the site on Mackay Bucasia road, but Woolworths’ subsequent appeal to the Planning and Environment Court was successful. In December 2007 the council, along with other parties, resolved to appeal the decision by the Planning and Environment Court.

“The success of this appeal, which has overturned the original Planning and Environment Court decision and ordered council’s costs be paid, reinforces council’s co-ordinated growth strategies and planning to build better communities,” Cr Hatfield said.

Woolworths, Australia’s largest supermarket operator, has also had a proposal to build a supermarket on Erskineville Road, in inner Sydney, rejected by the Sydney City Council.

The decision was based on some resident concerns that, because many of the local roads are very narrow, one-way streets, supermarket trucks could get stuck and might lessen the “village-feel” of the precinct. Lawyers for Woolworths are set to appeal the decision in the New South Wales Land & Environment Court.

Woolworths appear to be facing a number of new challenges to their expansion plans, not least of which could be the likely recommendations of the ACCC following the Grocery Price Inquiry. ACCC Chairman Graeme Samuel has hinted at recommendations to heighten competitive pressure on the major supermarkets, with tougher takeover legislation among the possible strategies.

Planning laws have also been relaxed to entice greater supermarket competition from overseas retailers like Aldi and Costco, with the latter due to begin construction on their first Australian store in September in Melbourne’s Docklands precinct.