Bermagui Woolworths liquor store enters back door

The Woolworths-owned BWS franchise is the subject of a liquor licence application in Bermagui.
The Woolworths-owned BWS franchise is the subject of a liquor licence application in Bermagui.

DESPITE council attempts to keep a liquor store out of the Bermagui Woolworths development, the company has found a back door way of making it happen.

A development application (DA) by Woolworths construction arm Fabcot was approved by Bega Valley Shire Council in a 5-4 vote on April 16 (BDN, 18/4) for a supermarket, car park and two shops.

The DA was the second application to BVSC and, unlike the first, it contained no liquor store after consultation with council staff.

This followed a council resolution at the March 26 meeting that “consideration be given to the liquor store being removed from the development application”.

In the DA approved on April 16, the liquor store was replaced on the development plan by “retail tenancy (Shop 1)”.

Last week residents close to the development site at 1-9 Young St received a letter advising them a liquor license is being sought by BWS Beer Wine Spirits for Shop 1, otherwise known as Tenancy 1.

BWS is wholly owned by Woolworths.

According to section 31 of the draft consent approved, "a separate Development Application must be submitted to Council for the individual occupancy of Tenancy 1 and 2 on the completion of the development, with the exception of any use that meets the provisions of Complying Development".

Bega Valley Shire Council manager of planning services Keith Tull confirmed if a liquor store met the “provisions of Complying Development” it would not need a DA, only a liquor licence from the Casino, Liquor and Gaming Control Authority.

A Woolworths’ spokesperson said BWS was pursuing a liquor licence.

“We have recently written to local residents to notify them that Woolworths intends to apply for a liquor licence to bring a BWS store to Bermagui,” a spokesperson said.

“Achieving a liquor licence is a very public and thorough process that is subject to review from the relevant authority and public consultation. 

“The liquor licencing process is separate to achieving the development application.” 

The liquor outlet contained in the first DA was the subject of community concern as many did not believe the small seaside town needed another liquor store when it already had three.

Greens politician and NSW parliamentarian John Kaye weighed in at the time and questioned the need for another liquor outlet, linking oversupply of alcohol to domestic violence.

“This means it’s more competitive on price and the cheaper the alcohol, the great damage it does…it’s an oversupplied market which triggers concern,” he said in February (BDN, 19/2).

The first DA – which included a liquor store - was taken to the Land and Environment Court by the community action group No W in Bermagui, but the decision was deferred pending the outcome of the second application by Fabcot.

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