The NSW Government has announced that, following what it says was a rigorous assessment, it has approved modifications to a supermarket and bottle shop development at Station Street, Mullumbimby, subject to strict conditions and alterations.

Byron Shire Council has hit out at the decision, saying has fought hard to voice the concerns of the community and ensure planning regulations are enforced.

The Government says the modification will result in an improved building and carpark design compared with the original plans, generate local jobs and allow residents to shop close to home.

The original application approved in 2006 included a 2500 square metre supermarket and bottle shop along with 138 parking spaces, to be constructed in two stages.

A modification was lodged in 2008 which included:

  • Increasing the floor area of supermarket and number of car parking spaces constructed in the first stage of development;
  • Allowing deliveries on Sunday mornings;
  • Changing the building design and signage;
  • Relocating the loading dock; and
  • Changes to the proposed on-site sewage management system for the first stage of the development.

The modification does not involve an increase in the overall size of the retail floorspace.

Department of Planning Major Project Assessments executive director Chris Wilson said that the application was exhibited on two occasions to accommodate community concern and subsequent amendments to the plans.

“A key concern raised in submissions was the capacity of the proposed on-site sewage management system to service the development,” Mr Wilson said.

“As a result, the Department engaged wastewater specialists to review the proposal.”

Following this review, the proponent Fabcot Pty Ltd (Woolworths Ltd) provided more detail and made changes to its proposal, including:

  • Deferring introduction of in-house, water-intensive fresh food preparation areas until a later stage of development which will be linked to the introduction of a reticulated sewer at the site;
  • Installing the highest-rated water-saving devices; and
  • Minimising hose use to clean areas.

Furthermore, the Department has imposed a condition requiring effluent irrigation to stop when the soil is too wet. This condition and the wastewater storage tanks on-site will ensure that the system continues to function in times of rainfall.

The design also mitigates flood impacts by ensuring that the development does not reduce the area available on the site for the storage of floodwaters.

In response to public feedback, the proponent also submitted amended plans with improved building design to provide visual relief and better integrate the development into the existing environment.

The modified proposal features a pitched roof, new construction materials, additional glazing and increased setbacks along the western and eastern boundaries.

In addition to the amendments made, the Department’s assessment required a range of conditions.

For instance, Mr Wilson said the Department did not support the proposed increase in illuminated and non-illuminated signage, because of concerns about unacceptable visual impacts.

The final approval included a number of conditions, in particular:

  • A three-month trial period for Sunday deliveries between 10am-12pm (reduced from the proposed 8am-12pm) must be implemented and be subject to review at the end of this period, to determine whether Sunday deliveries should be allowed on an ongoing basis.
  • Should Sunday deliveries be allowed, only fixed-axle vehicles no more than 13 metres in length can undertake this role.
  • An acoustic fence must be constructed around the loading dock to minimise noise around the loading area.
  • The development must undergo two noise verification tests, one prior to occupation and one within three months of commencement of operation.
  • Trucks must not be left idling during loading and unloading and are prohibited from queuing on Station Street at any time.

Byron Shire Council’s Director of Planning, Development and Environment Services, Ray Darney, said council has fought hard to voice the concerns of the community and ensure planning regulations are enforced.

“This has been a long battle and once again it’s disappointing to see the NSW State Government ignoring council’s recommendations,” he said.

“The effluent disposal is understated and the water-cleaning usage is illogical and raises concerns about hygiene.

“The approved development has allowed for only 250 litres of public effluent disposal, which equates to only 25 customers using the public toilets on a daily basis. This is obviously of concern.

“We acknowledge that Woolworths will be seeking to connect to the Brunswick Valley Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) upon the STP’s completion, however this will take at least two years. In the meantime they will be transporting excess effluent from the site during wet periods which is against council policy.

“Likewise the stated water allowance of only 730 litres per day to clean the premises raises concerns about the cleaning process despite Woolworths claiming all meat preparation, bakery, fresh seafood and chicken cooking facilities will be limited on site.”

Mr Darney said the approved Woolworths modifications include the project being basically completed in one stage with a building construction of 2500m2. A second stage will allow for connection to the council’s sewer reticulation.

“Whilst the improved aesthetics of the building and further setback on the western front are welcomed, council is also concerned about the new loading dock entrance on the northern end of the building,” he said.

“The loading dock location allows for greater public convenience and safety, but will seriously impact on Station Street residents due to increased noise from delivery trucks travelling an additional 175 metres”

Byron Shire Council will continue to voice its concerns to the NSW Department of Planning in regard to the inappropriate assessment of the application and the issue of on-site waste disposal, Mr Darney said.