A Mildura Rural City Councillor Max Thorburn says that he continues to have concerns about the current site selected by Aldi for its long awaited supermarket in the Sunraysia district.
Cr Thorburn said that while he was well aware of the prices offered by Aldi and that at current levels their food prices are below that of their competitors Coles and Woolworths at this stage, the construction of a supermarket at the corner of Deakin Avenue and 15th Street may not be in the long term best interest of the overall community.
He said that there is no doubt that an Aldi supermarket is wanted by a large section of the population and that it should be constructed somewhere in the vicinity in 15th street but on the eastern side of Deakin Avenue.
Cr Thorburn said that under the strategic plan for Deakin Avenue approved by Council 12 months ago a supermarket type commercial development on the site of the Cross Roads Caravan Park is not encouraged.
At its October meeting Council made a decision in light of this and refused to grant a permit for an On The Run development on the Used Car site currently occupied by Currans Used Cars and opposite the site Aldi has selected.
This was a site which had been a service station previously but did not survive when independent operators entered the oil industry retail market.
“While I am aware that the local Caravan Park Industry indicates that it doesn’t need new caravan parks, one could also say that if we are going to restore Mildura’s tourist industry to what it was we must not lose any of the existing caravan parks.”
“Especially ones located in the immediate vicinity of the Mildura South 15th Street shopping precinct which has for the past 15 years moved ahead of the Mildura CBD area for commercial sales.”
“The western side of Deakin Avenue is basically a mixture of housing, accommodation units and a number of service type developments including motels, a school and a neighbourhood shopping centre complex,” Cr Thorburn said.
“I am mindful that the Cross Roads Caravan Park – the site Aldi wants for its supermarket – has more trees on it than any other caravan park in the district,” he said.
“A supermarket on this site will probably see the destruction of some 300 trees and environmentally the city cannot let this happen.”
“The 15th Street roundabout is also very busy and with a supermarket on this corner site it is highly likely that every vehicle which comes to the site, may have to either enter or leave by using part or the whole of the Roundabout, as would customers would have to do if the On The Run proposal across the road had been approved.”
“I haven’t seen the detailed Aldi Proposal for this site as yet but I believe it will be coming to the November meeting of Council.”
“When it does, I will be in a better position to make a decision.”
“At this point I must say I have significant concerns about Aldi being permitted to build on this site.”
Cr Thorburn said he expects a number of objections from people living in the vicinity and he will be keen to hear what they have to say in relation to the proposal.
“In the past I have generally sided with residents because a Council decision can be taken by the developer to a VCAT decision for review and I believe that the onus of proof should be with them as they are the main beneficiary in the first instance.”
Cr Thorburn said he believed that the October decision of the On The Run proposal for the northern corner of 15th and Deakin, will be taken to VCAT by the applicant for further adjudication.