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Supermarket approval deferred

A sitting of the Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) at the Maclean council chambers on Wednesday November 18 deferred its approval of the proposed supermarket in Cameron Park, Maclean. The panel, Clarence Valley Council (CVC) and the applicant, Wakefield Planning, will confer to resolve a number of contentious issues in the council’s conditioning of the approval. Once those issues are resolved, the panel will confer and make an “electronic approval”. The panel’s chair, Gary West, told those at the meeting that, while the panel supported the development’s approval, issues that needed to be resolved included the travel path heavy vehicles will take and the potential conflict during construction with the monthly Maclean market held in the car park. He said that he was “satisfied” that issues surrounding the total number of car parking spaces required to be constructed had been addressed. “We could argue till the cows come home” about that issue, he said. He said that the loss of open space in Cameron Park as a result of the development was a “town planning issue … [and] not for the panel”. “There will be no final determination today,” Mr West said. He said a final decision would be made once the development application’s conditions had been agreed upon by CVC and Wakefield Planning. Mr West said an additional plan detailing “ingress and egress” of semi trailers that “better addressed” safety concerns would need to be submitted. Several people spoke about their concerns at the meeting. Former CVC director Rob Donges spoke on behalf of the Maclean Bowling Club. Mr Donges said the bowling club was “strongly supportive” of the development, however, it objected to delivery trucks passing its entrance. He argued that it would be more appropriate for trucks to access the supermarket via Centenary Drive. He said the club held concerns for pedestrians entering or leaving the club, crossing what is “not a public road”, and pointed out that heavy vehicles would pass “within four metres” of the entrance. Wakefield Planning’s representative countered Mr Donges’ point by saying that only one semi-trailer would pass the club each day. He argued that “the overall risk is lowered and achieves a better separation” from pedestrians, when compared to access via Centenary Drive. On proximity to the bowling club’s entrance he said “we’re looking at a low speed environment” and that there was an “opportunity to implement a driver induction process so that drivers have an understanding” of the local conditions. Former Maclean shire council town planner Warren Rackham spoke on behalf of the Greater Maclean Community Action Group and the Scottish Town Association, both of which lodged objections to the proposal. He said that the groups were not against the development of a supermarket, “just the location”. However, he expressed frustration that “only one issue that was raised in our submissions has actually been agreed to and altered: that being the ridiculous roundabout proposed in Argyle Street”. “Most other objections lodged have received cursory comments in less than four pages of analysis, but these have been generally ‘noted’ or refuted in favour of a more enlightened form of assessment from council,” he said. “Certainly some issues have been placed on conditioning reliance, rather than being more appropriately assessed before the event.” Mr Rackham described how CVC had conducted the process over the past seven years as “a continuum of applications that have consistently been bulldozed through the system by council [councillors]”. Chair Gary West didn’t take kindly to this criticism, saying “it’s not helpful to say staff are under direction of council”. “If you were a town planner, I hope you were working independently; the rest of your comments are good,” he said. Mr Rackham was most irate about what he claims is a nett loss of car parking spaces. “This development will result in an overall [shortfall] of 29 parking spaces and 3 caravan spaces,” he said. “The report erroneously states: ‘The nett parking supplying will meet council standards, in spite of the correct parking figures being provided twice to council. “This has been ignored, and it seems that this developer continues to get exceptional consideration in providing less than the council standards require.” The council’s development services coordinator, Cheryl Sisson, had a different opinion. She said that she did not believe there would be a loss of 29 car parking spaces and that, “overall, no nett loss of parking spaces” would occur. Other conditions to be agreed upon before final approval is given include the timing of the construction of the Argyle Street car park by CVC and how the scale of the 60m-long and seven metre-high wall at the northern side of Cameron Park would be ameliorated. Ms Sisson said: “The idea is that the wall will have an articulation or features to provide variation to break the scale … so as not to appear to be a straight wall.” There is also a proposal to install floodgates at a 1:100 level instead of raising the store’s floor level to that height. Mr West said that overall, the “concept of keeping the CBD tight and compact is very important … the result is a vibrant CBD”. He cited similar developments in other countries that he had witnessed, which used that principal to maintain the heritage values within the CBD’s main street. Spar Maclean proprietor Judith Little, on behalf of her husband, Bob, spoke against the proposal. David Cooper, on behalf of the Maclean Chamber of Commerce, and long-time Maclean business owner, Denise Worrell, spoke in support of the proposal.