Retail size does matter

A MAJOR retail development proposed for Traralgon’s north has triggered concern it could damage small businesses in the centre of town.

Developers have approached Latrobe City to rezone land at the corner of Marshalls and Traralgon-Maffra roads to establish a 4700 square metre floor space catering for a supermarket, shops and other services.

The draft amendment refers to the existing Traralgon North Development Plan, which has identified the site for a potential supermarket subject to analysis and rezoning.

However, following two months of public exhibition, residents and councillors alike are questioning the need for a facility of that size.

“I think it’s really good to be developing convenience shopping centres to service the requirements of neighbourhood areas around Traralgon and other large towns,” Traralgon resident David Langmore told The Express.

“In this case, I don’t think this proposal is a good one.”

Mr Langmore spoke at council’s meeting on Monday night, expressing his concern around the proposed centre’s location, size and impact on Traralgon’s central business district.

He joined three other speakers – one for and two opposing the motion – before councillors decided to refer the proposal to an independent planning panel.

The proposed 2.3 hectare site abuts industrial and residential areas, with the activity centre aimed at serving the growing residential areas of Traralgon’s north along with surrounding towns such as Toongabbie and Glengarry.

Its services could include a baker, pharmacy and butcher, while frontage along Marshalls Road has been identified for future retail convenience such as a petrol station.

“Quite frankly this supermarket, if it were to be successful, would have to pull a whole lot of traffic from all over the place which could create a whole set of other problems,” Mr Langmore said.

“The only way you could justify having it up there right on the edge of the residential neighbourhood would be trying to draw sales from as far afield as Heyfield.

“So you’d end up having a detrimental effect on retail facilities in (smaller towns).”

An economic impact assessment submitted with the application and a council-commissioned peer review show the development would have a small impact on Traralgon’s central business district.

The documents suggest this would be within a reasonable level, and the facility would not compete with the small grocery stores in Park Lane, Toongabbie or Glengarry.

Cr Darrell White said due to many competing factors at play, it was important these were assessed by an impartial body before council adopted or abandoned the amendment.

“At the end of the day, that’s the key message – it’s not something that can be resolved by the council and therefore we are duty-bound to pursue the matter with a planning panel,” he said.

Latrobe City will write to the State Planning Minister Richard Wynne and request the establishment of a planning panel.

All those who made submissions will be notified and invited to present their views.