Discontent with new and proposed supermarkets has become a prominent issue in inner Sydney, with residents and community groups voicing concerns about noise, traffic problems, parking issues and early morning goods deliveries.
In one of several flashpoints of contention over new supermarkets, residents in Erskineville are calling on the City of Sydney Council to take action against supermarket giant Woolworths over their new store in the suburb, which opened in June.
Local resident and businessman Paul Howard said the City should fine Woolworths for alleged breaches of DA conditions on deliveries and traffic.
“Woolworths have no regard for the loading dock conditions imposed by the City of Sydney under the DA,” said Mr Howard, from the Friends of Erskineville (FOE) group.
“Woolworths are not supposed to receive deliveries at the loading dock before 7am – but they’ve consistently breached this, with deliveries arriving as early as 5.30am.”
Mr Howard said delivery vehicles were also being driven the wrong way up surrounding one-way streets, adding to traffic and parking problems.
“Deliveries in narrow residential streets, which are certainly not designed for trucks, are problematic at the best of times – but the actions of Woolworths and their contractors are compounding the problem.
“The City of Sydney needs to impose financial penalties to ensure they act within the law,” he said.
A City of Sydney spokesperson agreed that Woolworths “must also operate in accordance with its approved Plan of Management” and said the loading dock should not be used before 7am Monday to Saturday, or 8am on Sundays.
The spokesperson encouraged local residents to call the City’s 24-hour hotline if they observed any breaches of loading dock hours or other conditions.
Woolworths admitted that an unspecified number of deliveries had been made before 7am but said the culprits were contractors, who had been spoken to and ordered to desist the practice.
“At Woolworths, we have made great efforts to ensure our new store meets the needs of the local area and fits into the day-to-day lives of Erskineville residents. That’s why we were disappointed when a supplier to the store did make some deliveries prior to our agreed 7am start time,” said a Woolworths spokesperson.
“We have spoken to the company involved … We will continue monitor these deliveries to ensure they remain within our dock opening hours.”
The controversy surrounding Woolworths Erskineville follows international media attention over the company’s new store at Woolloomooloo, which boasted one of the world’s most expensive car parks when it opened in late June.
The store was charging $65 for parking between one and two hours, $95 for two to three hours, and $125 for more than three hours in its underground car park, to deter non-shoppers using it – but Woolworths bosses slashed rates significantly after widespread negative publicity.
Several suburbs away in Forest Lodge, a new supermarket stoush is emerging, with the Forest Lodge Annandale Glebe (FLAG) group sounding the alarm on the Harold Park Tramsheds DA, which envisages a major supermarket of approximately 35 by 80 square metres.
An email sent out by FLAG earlier this month said the plan raised concerns about traffic, parking and amenity, and flouted Council’s previous commitment “to a smaller IGA-type supermarket” to service new homes being built in the precinct by residential developers, Mirvac.
A City of Sydney spokesperson said the City could not comment on the DA at press time, as it was still on public exhibition.
The deadline for community submissions on the project expired yesterday.