Woolworths approval 'appalling' say opponents


THE approval of a Woolworths supermarket in Bermagui by the Bega Valley Shire Council has been a disappointing outcome for some.

Nadine Hills (left), Vicki Sherwin and Paul Payten were disappointed with the result after BVSC approved the Woolworths development proposal.

Nadine Hills (left), Vicki Sherwin and Paul Payten were disappointed with the result after BVSC approved the Woolworths development proposal.

The council staff report concluded the development “meets the objectives of the zone, is a permissible land use, is considered to achieve the orderly and economic use and development of the land and is consistent with the strategic direction for Bermagui”.

Public citizens Nadine Hills, Paul Payten and Vicki Sherwin attended the meeting and put forward arguments to decline the Woolworths DA, and were unsatisfied with the result.

“This is appalling,” Ms Hills said.

“The councillors are for it [the Woolworths development] and not Bermagui.

“Who are they representing?

“They have the gall to say that they are representing the people of Bermagui area, but not one of them lives in Bermagui.

“They are not affected personally.

“What is going to be special about Bermagui now?”

In early 2014 there were 160 submissions to council regarding the development proposal, and 83 per cent opposed it, Ms Hills said.

Mayor Bill Taylor said the members of the public who spoke against the DA were speaking emotionally as it was an emotional issue, but the council “can’t operate from the heart”.

“How humiliating for us to say our argument is based on emotion,” Ms Hills said.

“It’s insulting to tell us that 83 per cent have been speaking based on emotion and heart.

“Practical issues were being said they are emotional.

“We were jittering because we care.”

Council stated having the Woolworths in the centre of town would bring more people into town and increase business there - however Mr Payten said having the Woolworths in the industrial area would still bring people into town as they would have to drive through it to get to the supermarket.

Mr Payten stated that council should have offered another alternative to the development, but “not one alternative has been offered as part of council's briefs”.

“What will Woolies give us that we haven’t already got?” said Mr Payten.

Mr Payten questioned the profit bleed, that while Woolworths may bring more money to the town, it could then take profit out of the community elsewhere.  

During the council meeting, group manager for planning and environment Andrew Woodley suggested council could consider widening Lamont Lane in the future to allow for safe pedestrian access, however to do so would require purchasing the properties along the lane on the left of the Woolworths site.

“The council need to know that they are residential houses, not empty blocks,” said Ms Sherwin.

Ms Sherwin's parents live next door to the Woolworths site, and their house is one of those along Lamont Lane.

“It’s absolutely devastating for them.”

Are you for or against Woolworths in Bermagui? What are your thoughts now it's been approved? Comment below or email ben.smyth@fairfaxmedia.com.au


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