Protests over too many booze outlets in Mt Eliza

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MT Eliza residents are opposing plans for a liquor outlet in a shop not yet built. The outlet will be part of the expanded Eliza Square shopping centre on the corner of Mt Eliza Way and Canadian Bay Rd.

Lead tenant is a supermarket and Mornington Peninsula Shire recently received an application for a liquor shop at Shop 10, 85 Mt Eliza Way.

The proposed expansion by building owner Blackbrook Pty Ltd has been on the cards since 2008. In 2010 the shire knocked back the plan but this was overturned by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in September 2011. (The case included the removal of a cypress tree on Mt Eliza Way, the last of a row planted by town pioneers. It generated widespread opposition and a picket by members of now-defunct Mt Eliza Action Group.)

No building has occurred since the planning permit was approved in 2011 but the shire has granted at least one extension to Blackbrook. The liquor application shows there is movement on the proposed expansion.

The shire has called for public comment on the liquor application and The News understands several submitters are opposing the plan.

Prominent among them is former area councillor Leigh Eustace. Last week he told The News he was concerned about the “cumulative impact” of another liquor outlet in the town.

“There are three liquor outlets close to the proposed shop as well as a hotel, which does not currently sell packaged liquor, and a food shop that is permitted to deliver liquor with its takeaway food. All are within 300 metres of the proposed new outlet,” he said.

“In addition there are at least five licensed restaurants and cafes within easy walking distance.”

In April 2011, the state government introduced “cumulative impact” regulations to guide planning approval of liquor outlets.

Cumulative impact refers to the positives or negatives of putting licensed premises such as hotels, bars, clubs and liquor shops in the one area.

Negative impacts can include noise, anti-social behaviour, limited public transport, violence and perceived threats to safety, vandalism, trespass and property damage.

Positive impacts can include the creation of a local “identity” or status as an entertainment or tourism destination, enhanced vitality of an area, economic benefits, increase in consumer choice, and increased ability to manage impacts, for example, by concentrating venues around transport to aid dispersal of patrons.

Mr Eustace said the application should be subject to a “social impact assessment” before it was considered by council, as occurs in NSW.

“It should be carried out by an independent, suitably qualified professional organisation, and not by the council.”

The shire stuck its neck out in 2011 when it knocked back a First Choice (Wesfarmers/Coles) liquor “superstore” in Rosebud, the 10th liquor outlet along a three-kilometre strip of Point Nepean Rd. Coles challenged the decision in VCAT. It was a test case as the shire was the first council to refuse a liquor shop using “cumulative impact” regulations. Coles won.

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