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The developers for a new Erskineville supermarket have won a major battle in their fight against the local community, gaining Council approval on Monday night to proceed with their development despite a well-orchestrated community campaign.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the community’s interests were of concern, and described the decision as “tough”, but supported the proposal because she wanted to support development “which is about pedestrianising our cities”.

Councillor Marcelle Hoff cited legal concerns for her decision to approve the development. “If we refuse it here tonight, it will go to the Land and Environment Court,” she said. “It will cost Council a significant amount of money, and we will lose. In order to make a point and perhaps be popular, we can deny the developer…it would be lost [in court], and it would be lost without necessarily having the conditions [we have imposed].”

Liberal councillor Shayne Mallard said he had experienced “unanimous opposition from shopkeepers and there was largely opposition from people I spoke to on the street,” but nevertheless voted in favour of the proposal, citing the fact the previous DA had been scaled back and that he did not want to see the proposal go to court.

Greens Councillor Chris Harris said the issue at stake was the viability of Erskineville. “For the supermarket to be viable it will need to take business away from the small businesses that have created a charming diversity in the Erskineville village,” he said. “In fact, history shows that this new presence will make some of the businesses unviable and cause them to close.”

“City of Sydney staff, who have recommended the proposal for approval, focused on whether or not the supermarket would draw its business from outside the area. However, the question that staff should have posed in their assessment was whether or not the existence of this supermarket would threaten the sustainability of the village.”

“It was very disappointing that Clover Moore’s so-called independent team voted to approve the supermarket in Erskineville without undertaking an independent economic analysis of the impact of the supermarket development,” said Paul Howard from the Friends of Erskineville Working Group. According to Mr Howard, this request was repeatedly made by the Group, to address the lack of economic analysis completed by either the developer or Council.

“We understood that Councillor McInerney was going to move that the decision on the development application be deferred several weeks while this independent report was commissioned, which we understood would take 3-4 weeks,” he said. “As residents, all we were asking was for our elected leaders to undertake an objective assessment of the impact of the supermarket before making a decision. This has not happened. If this is the quality of our council’s ability then we are in for a rough ride.”

Cr McInerney described the economic review as “superficial”, but voted in favour of the proposal regardless. He said the size of the outlet had been commonly overstated, describing it as more of a “large grocery store” comparable to the Thomas Dux in Surry Hills.

Fellow Friends of Erskineville campaigner Penny Hardy was angry with the justification cited, “particularly [Councillor] Marcelle Hoff saying she would support it in order to avoid going to the Land and Environment Court. I find it very wrong that a developer can come back and scale down till they can get it to the point where people are worn down, where the Council are worn down, and…don’t want to spend the money to go to the Land and Environment Court,” she said. “It’s not up to Council to be counting their pennies, it’s up to them to be protecting communities. They say Erskineville is a prime example of a village. This goes against it all…they’re going against their own propaganda.”

  • Guy Ollivier

    Just another example of Clover Moore no longer representing the local electorate. Her much vaunted “synergery” from wearing two hats is with the wrong people. Her village boast is mainly spinnery.

  • John

    I think its great. Maybe now Erskineville residence can have a nice shopping experience rather then use the over priced grotty mini mart and unfriendly fruit shop. The businesses in Erskineville will just need to work harder and smarter. I think the big loses will be food works and Franklins as now Erskinville residence will not have to go to King Street to do a shop.

  • Sue

    Those who go on about “villages” a lot are generally the ones intent on keeping everyone else OUT. Thats very much the case here, and the irony is – the “villagers” are ones who just arrived!
    But no way will THEY ever have to get jobs in Woolies or in the food service industry. Those workers can commute from the distant suburbs, to serve the Ersko “villagers” their tofu burgers. Maybe with a bit of extra dressing, to show their true feelings for their well heeled customers, the ones always turning their elitist noses up at “people who shop at woolworths”
    Why is City News supporting these reactionary, snobbish protestors with their fantasies of living in a walled village? This paper and City Hub seem to have changed recently, they both used to be quite progressive. But are now supporting a whole bunch of conservative causes.

  • Lee Crennan

    I am happy that this supermarket is going ahead for 3 reasons: 1. I dont have a car and it is a long walk from my flat up the hill to Foodworks or IGA – most of the time I manage it but on wet or hot days it can be a real drag. After 14 years of hauling up the hill to King St this will definitely make life easier.

    2. the shops in Erskineville that the protestors rave about are very expensive – for example bananas in the vegie shop can be more than twice as expensive as those in Foodworks, and generally the quality of their produce is poor. Why?..cos they have captured market it seems.

    3. Walking down Erskinville road at night can be creepy. I will be very happy to see this long neglected block come alive.

  • Jason

    That’s madness! How can you create a City of Villages and then approve a big supermarket in the middle of the smallest village of them all? The traffic is going to be a nightmare! Sure the small businesses may not be as clean & cheap as a brand new supermarket, but then why isn’t Clovers ‘team’ working on creative & financial ways to assist the small businesses that make a village an even better village? Must sound too much like hard work with no returns.

  • Anastasia

    I also Agree.. I think its a good thing. Its not going to be a massive Woolworths…isn’t only going to be a small Thomas Dux? The minimarts at Erskineville are rude and over priced. We could support small business but can anyone afford to go there anywhere?? I’m willing to make a bet that 85% of Erskineville residents walk up to Foodworks.

  • Robert

    Finally. It’s nice to see that this thread is receiving alot of support for the new approvals.
    Why shouldn’t the village be allowed to develop? Walking and even driving up to King St to do the grocery shopping can be a hellish experience, and why on earth should the mini mart and fruit store get to capture the entire market? They are INCREDIBLY over priced and provide terrible service, so it’s about time that something like Woolworths was brought in to provide us with extra options.
    I mean, honestly: a block of dairy milk chocolate costs $6.75 at the mini mart. Woolworth’s has the same block of chocolate on special most days at $3.50. I could make several examples of the over inflated prices, but to be honest, there is no longer a point, because finally sanity has reigned, and we in Erskineville are no longer being held to ransom by a mini mart and a fruit store that not only lack quality, but are so far removed from a ‘village’ experience that it isn’t even funny.

  • susan

    As is often the case this town planning application attracted self interest and status quo advocates who sometimes did not provide full and detailed explanation to residents of what was actually proposed. I visited a similar store in Surrey Hills and consider that this retail addition can only help improve the quality of services in the area. Yes there are some traffic issues but this is the case with any commercial development, but the scale of this one is small. Now lets hope the adjoining commercial buildings and railway associated buildings that have been laying idle for years can also be turned over to more productive purposes.

  • Peter

    Erskineville will benefit from Thomas Dux. The Thomas Dux store in Surry Hills is a local supermarket which does not attract huge amounts of traffic. Most of the people shopping there appear to walk. Congratulations to Clover and her team for this sensible decision. I, for one applaud this decision and believe Thomas Dux will enhance Erskineville’s standing as an urban village.

  • lachie

    This is a great move and I also applaud the council for holding firm with this one. I give credit to the existing bakery, deli and liquor stores for having good customer service and fresh quality produce. However the fruit market has appaling produce at over-inflated prices and the service is far from standard, the current supermarket has extremely high prices and service is also poor and I refuse to go give either of them my $$$.
    True, some of the local stores may be forced to close, but maybe this will open the way for more appealing businesses who value their customers enough to say hello when you walk in the door.

  • Tim

    I agree that a quality local supermarket is long overdue. When I walk into the current supermarket and fruit stall I am constantly surprised how they can survive by providing such low quality establishments (no competition?) it just isn’t pleasant and not fitting with a village atmosphere of Erskineville today and where it is moving.

    Also, how can people complain that an unused building which is becoming an eyesore is being put to good use? There are a couple of other candidates in Erkineville Road which could be put to good use instead of just sitting there looking abandoned and getto-like. So let’s stop making it difficult for businesses to move in. Putting these buildings to good use will add far more to a sense of village and community then leaving them derelict and an eyesore.

  • Andrew

    I am relieved that a decision has finally been made. I’m certain that the majority of Erko residents such as myself do their supermarket shopping anywhere but locally due to the poor quality and service levels at the local fruit & veg shop and mini mart. I travel to numerous locations for grocery supplies including Broadway, Fratelli Fresh on Dank St, Thomas Dux in Surry Hills, Everleigh Markets and occasionally Leichardt. It will be a huge relief to access quality food locally. And guess what? The new supermarket won’t impact on my use of other local services in the area such as the fantastic deli, flower shop, cafes, pubs, post office, restaurants, newsagent etc. If the ‘elite’ few who organised this campaign buy all of their fruit, veg & supplies at the grocery store and mini-mart I’d be astounded! Sure, the so called ‘village’ atmosphere is a draw card but we live in a city, not a village and if that’s the lifestyle people are seeking I’m sure they would be welcome in many parts of regional NSW.

  • Lee

    This will be a refreshing change on the Erskineville main street. There are plenty of other unused derelict buildings on the street … will the quirky pro-village protesters make use of these spaces themselves. I would expect it will be left to the likes of Aesop and Laura Ashley years of campaigning to make these spaces productive.

  • Joe,,,,

    Totaly argree with most of what poeple had to say ,,especialy with Andrew’s comments …Well said Andrew and well done Clover ,,not a huge Fan but on this one full marks,,,And as for the so called elite’ few who organised this campaign ,,Time to move on and perhaps putting your houses on the maket ,l’m sure u will get a good price as some of us had to pay to move into the area ,,Tasmania might be an option plenty of room and village like lifestyle thier went l visited last .. Sorry poeple but this is progress and something that will benifit the rest of community if not u ,For {Service}{Value for money}{Quality}{ Enployment} to name a few ,,,last time l went to shop at the Fruite and Veg shop l was served with a person chewing food that hardly aknowleged me plus was over charged for out dated produce,,The last few times l shopped at the Mini Mart none of the staff could tell me if they sold certain products such as Anchovies…Agian as l eat out at least two to three times a week l , dont mind paying a little bit extra & supporting the local shops such as the Delli ,,the Rose , florist plus other small restaurants in the area l will continue to support them and wellcome the new supermarket at the some time… Regards

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  • Sean

    I notice the pharmacy in Erskineville is horrendously overpriced as well. Not that a supermarket will be able to address that.

    Most of Sydney, including these ‘charming villages’ are absolutely awful areas compared with similar places in Melbourne, with its quality homes and gardens and wide roads and ample parking lanes and service roads. Why people keep paying through the nose for Sydney real estate and believing absolute dumps are prestige areas is beyond me also.

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