Call for shire to hold sway on supermarket site

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PLANNING minister Richard Wynne has been called on to “abandon his hand-picked committee” to deal with the controversial Kaufland supermarket proposal in Mornington and return decision making to Mornington Peninsula Shire Council.

The minister’s advisory committee, formed under the Planning and Environment Act 1987, is assessing the veracity of the German supermarket giant’s proposed six sites scattered throughout the metropolitan area, including beside the Bata factory at 1158 Nepean Highway, near the corner of Oakbank Road. 

Speaking in the lead-up to state parliament’s closing for the year, Mornington MP David Morris said the minister’s committee “has been asked to provide a written report … on a number of matters, particularly on whether the site proposed is an appropriate location”. 

“That action has the effect of sidelining local councils at each of the locations, but particularly the Mornington Peninsula Shire.” 

The shire is planning to hold a mid-February public meeting to advise the community on the steps available after the state government Kaufland Stores advisory committee wraps up.

The shire at its 17 December planning services committee meeting heard expert advice from legal, economic, traffic, transport and urban design consultants in regard to the proposal which it will use as a basis for its submission to the advisory committee. 

The consultants will represent the council at the hearing, possibly in February or March.

The proposed Kaufland site is in an established parkland industrial area. “Since the 1970s all buildings have been required to be set back 90 metres from Nepean Highway … creating a very pleasant treed landscape, albeit in an industrial area,” Mr Morris said.

“The land is not zoned for retail use and … is quite a distance from established retail areas. The current zoning does permit the land to be used for shops but only to a maximum of 1800 square metres.”

Mr Morris added: “Interestingly, the proposed main tenant [Kaufland] has claimed in [The News] that the total store area will be 4000 square metres. 

“However, when I add up the various areas on the plans that are currently on the [state government] committee’s website, I reach a total of 6700 square metres – significantly larger. Then there is basement and rooftop parking as well.”

Mr Morris said the application was a “gross overdevelopment” of the site.

“The minister has sidelined the council and he has effectively blocked any serious local input because he knows our councillors will stand up for our community.

“So, the action I am seeking from the minister is that he abandon this committee process and return the responsibility for handling the necessary site-specific rezoning at Mornington to Mornington Peninsula Shire.”

Kaufland spokesperson Didem Brennan said the state government’s advisory committee process was “legitimate, transparent and accountable and encourages public engagement”.

“This process allows any interested party to make a submission and seek to appear in front of an independent panel of experts,” he said.

“Kaufland is making significant investment and employment decisions for which it requires a degree of certainty that a traditional planning pathway through six individual Councils could not provide.”

First published in the Mornington News – 8 January 2019

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