PLANS to redevelop the former Masters’ site in Mornington into a 4250 square metre supermarket, six retail outlets over 6950 square metres and a 100 square metre cafe, has received strong backing from Mornington Peninsula Shire officers.
The application, by Home Investment Consortium Company, will be discussed at the Wednesday 26 April Mornington Shire Council meeting.
A report by planning services team leader David McPherson considered the “strategic justification” of a supermarket exceeding the “as-of-right” 1800 square metre floor area; changes to the Mornington Peninsula Planning Scheme by the state government; the impact the use would have upon other activity centres – such as Main St, Mornington; traffic; access; and public amenity.
Mr McPherson found the proposal “is of net community benefit and achieves a balance between the objectives of the Commercial 2 Zone, preservation of the existing activity centre hierarchy and the broader policy context”.
He said the proposal “will have limited impact on the viability of existing activity centres, subject to restrictions that ensure the balance of land remains larger restricted retail premises”.
The mayor Cr Bev Colomb has previously said the development of such a large supermarket “out of town” would undermine Mornington’s “retail hierarchy” (“Concerns over ‘mega’ market”, The News, 21/3/2017).
“Certain size supermarkets suit certain size townships,” she said. “Our concern is the sheer size of a supermarket of 4250 square metres.”
Council departments including traffic, engineering, economic development, environmental health and strategic project planning all gave the proposal the thumbs up.
The irregular shape block has a 128.62 metre frontage to Mornington-Tyabb Rd, depth of 162.4 metres and an overall area of 3.503 hectares.
Mr McPherson said officers’ assessments had aimed to achieve consistency with the activity centre hierarchy by way of limiting other retail elements and providing restrictions to ensure businesses within the site do not directly compete with independent retailers on Main St, Mornington.
“Furthermore, this is considered to be a unique situation with limited scope for re-use of the old Masters building and surrounding infrastructure,” his report stated.
The officers said the role and function of existing activity centres would be “largely unaffected … because the proposal does not create potential for smaller scale specialty stores to be ‘transferred’ out of existing town centres which would undermine the independent retail fabric of Main St.
“The proposal would then also sustain the objectives of the Mornington activity centre by protecting its low-scale village ambience and seaside atmosphere … and its focus on Main St and will not detract the focus on Mornington as a major activity centre.”
The report said the size of the proposed supermarket was “not excessive and is no larger than the existing Woolworths supermarket at Bentons Square shopping centre … the largest supermarket in the catchment area”.
Supermarkets within the catchment area are said to have exhibited strong performance levels and are “in a position to cope with the competition in light of the anticipated growth of retail spending of $130.6 million per annum over the next 10 years”.
The council’s economic development unit said one extra supermarket would “not impact the economic viability of surrounding activity centres, with the Bentons Square supermarket being one of the most profitable and busiest supermarkets within Victoria”.
“With Bentons Square at capacity the effect [on the activity centre] may be negligible, especially considering population growth in this area of Mornington.”
The report predicted shoppers would continue to be attracted to Main St’s “lovely traditional town centre [and] seaside feel, due to the village experience”.