CONSIDERATION of the controversial Woolworths development proposed for Bermagui has been deferred by the Bega Valley Shire Council.
The application has had a long process with ongoing community concerns about impacts on the village.
Neil McPherson and family, who are strongly opposed to the development, thanked councillors for deferring their decision for further community input.
“Our main concern is that the report to the council and the review by HillPDA still do not address the key economic issues,” Mr McPherson said.
Wakefield Planning identified a minimum of 26 per cent impact on the turnover of many local businesses - a figure Mr McPherson said was alarming.
“At the council meeting Wakefield Planning put their methodology on the table” he said.
“I am seeing no research, no analysis from either the developer’s economic consultant or HillPDA who prepared a report for the council.
“The Wakefield Planning work is being dismissed and ignored.
“Woolworths says they will create 79 jobs.
“The community needs to understand how many of these jobs would be part time and seasonal, and how many hours people would actually work.
“Would Woolworths keep young people on over winter so they can continue to meet their car loans?
“We also need to understand that for each new job at Woolworths others would be lost from existing businesses,” he said.
During his deputation to the council at their January 16 meeting, Mr McPherson also questioned the independence of the HillPDA report.
“It is clear from the HillPDA website that Woolworths are one of their clients.
“Council should engage a totally independent firm to undertake the peer reviews and carry out a full economic and community benefit study,” he said.
Population growth in Bermagui is another point of contention.
According to the Wakefield Planning analysis, Bermagui cannot “grow itself out of trouble” if too much floor space is built in the town.
“This worsens the economic impact of the development” he said.
Mr McPherson also believes the community needs further information about the overall size and scale of the building and the impacts on their village.
He proposed the council arrange to have a frame erected with hessian to “mock up” the development so people could see the real size of the proposal.
Mr McPherson called on the council to hold the next meeting that addresses the application in Bermagui itself.
“I feel it’s vital that all community members have the opportunity to attend and be heard,” he said.
“As part of this, the community also needs to be informed well in advance when councillors intend to inspect the site”.
Mr McPherson encouraged local residents to write to individual councillors about their concerns on the effects on the village both now and in the future.
“We plead with councillors to represent the 351 people opposing the development and consider the many valid planning reasons to refuse it,” he said.