Blow to eastern Aldi bid

HOPES of getting an Aldi supermarket at Warrnambool’s Homemaker Centre have been dampened by a planning panel report which says the idea should be abandoned.

The special review panel which heard  objections on two city council proposed planning amendments  has recommended the Homemaker Centre zone proposal to allow larger floor size and less restrictions be scrapped.

However, the panel supported the city council’s proposed permit to allow AMP to embark on a major expansion of the nearby Gateway Plaza and rejected AMP’s concerns on roadwork requirements.

City councillors are likely to consider the report next Monday night, when they will decide to either press ahead with the Homemaker Centre amendment or follow the panel’s advice.

Centre manager David Turner yesterday said it was premature to comment because it was yet to come before the council.

According to the panel’s report the centre’s owner had preliminary discussions with Aldi regarding  vacant floor space next to the Harris Scarfe store.

 The panel was advised there was no letter of intent and if Aldi did not locate there another independent supermarket might do so in the future.

AMP had lodged an objection on the Homemaker Centre proposal raising concerns about the economic and community impact of having a new supermarket there.

The council’s evidence to the panel indicated there would not be an adverse effect on other Warrnambool retail centres, including Gateway Plaza, if the Homemaker Centre took in a supermarket.

It indicated if an Aldi outlet opened it would take about two per cent of total food, grocery and liquor sales in Warrnambool with the most impact on the CBD.

“The presence of Aldi at the Homemaker Centre would not challenge the role of any centre in the hierarchy of Warrnambool’s activity centres,” the council said.

However, the panel in its summary said the Homemaker Centre was “not a strategically sound location for a supermarket”.

“Such investment should be directed to the Gateway Plaza and environs where, among other things, comparison supermarket and core retailing shopping will be facilitated in a single walkable location and centre,”  the panel said.

“The panel questions whether a stand-alone supermarket in this location would be good for Warrnambool.

“At the end of the day the panel thinks not.”

It also raised concerns about transport inefficiencies because a supermarket at the centre would increase single-purpose car trips.

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