Woolworths submits “fresh” application for Bermagui

A FRESH development application has been lodged with the Bega Valley Shire Council for approval to construct a Woolworths supermarket, liquor outlet and two further specialty shops in Bermagui.

Spokesman for community group “No W in Bermagui” Adam Millar said by submitting the new proposal, the developer had secured a suspension of the legal challenge to the existing approval to allow the fresh application to be assessed.

“The existing approval will avoid court scrutiny at least for the time being,” he said.

Mr Millar is a sustainable community development advocate with more than 15 years’ experience in environmental and planning law.

The original approval by the BVSC in April 2013 for a construction and 89-space car park was challenged in the Land and Environment Court by No W in Bermagui.

The legal challenge is based on concerns the council had not considered all of the matters it was bound to consider, including the more than 350 public submissions in opposition, and did not follow a proper decision-making process, Mr Millar said.

“The attempt to obtain a new approval for a Bermagui Woolworths and to have the current court proceedings suspended vindicates the decision by the community group to challenge the original approval in court.

“If Woolies was confident of the validity of council’s original approval, then why not just continue to defend the current legal challenge?

“The attempt to obtain yet another development consent makes it difficult to escape the conclusion that Woolies is not confident of the validity of the original approval or that the original approval would withstand the scrutiny of the court.

Mr Millar and his supporters are determined to convince Woolies and the BVSC that a Woolies supermarket in Bermagui is not needed, unsustainable and a real detriment to the local economy and social fabric of Bermagui.

“The community is not going to be stood over or bullied, or scared by Woolies’ resources,” he said.

“The community has the most important resources in this whole fight - a deep love for Bermagui’s unique charm and social fabric, and a steely resolve to protect it.”

The advertising period for the previous development application ran over the 2012 Christmas and New Year period but the community still came out to oppose the previous development application in overwhelming numbers. 

“It is a shame to see Woolies lodging this further application over the same period this year,” Mr Millar said.

“Thankfully, this new application presents council the unique opportunity to shift their 5-4 vote in favour of the development to a clear 9-0 vote against the development and in favour of Bermagui.”

A Woolworths spokesperson said the company had resubmitted a development application that addressed the concerns raised by the local community group and ensures due process is followed for the proposed Bermagui development.

“We are looking forward to being able to invest in Bermagui through the new Woolworths supermarket, which will provide more choice and value for customers as well as creating more local jobs.” 

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