A HUGE multi-national supermarket outside the existing commercial zone in Mornington would “destroy the prominent entry gateway to [Mornington]”.
The warning comes from Mornington Peninsula Shire Council as it ramps up its criticism of the proposed Kaufland super store on the corner of Nepean Highway and Oakbank Road.
The council has been sidelined by Planning Minister Richard Wynne who has appointed an advisory committee to assess the planning application.
The mayor Cr Bryan Payne said having the proposed store on the edge of green wedge-zoned land would lead to “vacant shops down Main Street”.
He said peninsula residents might eventually be given just 20 days to respond to the proposed 4000 square metre giant and its large car parking.
The shire is being backed up by Mornington MP David Morris who said he had “no problem with any retailer coming to Mornington, but the community expects them to set up for business in one of the existing retail areas, and to comply with the same rules as our existing traders”.
“Unfortunately, that’s not the case with this proposal,” he said.
“Kaufland are seeking to rezone cheaper industrial land on the edge of Mornington, away from the existing retail centres. While the land can be used for shops, the existing rules impose a maximum size of 1800 square metres. Press reports indicate the proposed store will be at least 17,000 square metres – almost 10 times the permitted size.”
Controversially, Planning Minister Richard Wynne has removed the Kaufland bid from the normal local planning processes and is having it assessed by an appointed board: the Kaufland Stores in Victoria Advisory Committee, which is under his direction.
Kaufland’s Didem Brennan said the process was “legitimate, transparent and accountable and encourages public engagement”.
He said the store would not be a “mega mall or a massive liquor outlet” and that the panel process was “not about mass rezoning of industrial land”.
“Our history shows we can co-exist with smaller retailers,” he said.
The shire has taken out full page advertisements in The News to “keep [residents] informed of the matters relating to the … supermarket to be assessed against the existing local planning scheme”.
Major concerns are the intrusion into the “setback of 90 metres and landscaping to reflect the environmental entry” with plans to turn the area into a 430-vehicle car park with less than 20 metres of landscaping.
A 20-metre-high and 60-metre-long advertising sign on top of the building would “permanently dominate the ‘green’ gateway skyline of the entry into Mornington”.
The council believes Kaufland would cause major traffic congestion on Oakbank Road and create a “rat run” through nearby streets, leading to more congestion on Bungower Road.
Cr Payne said the state government had given no indication when it would put the application on show. “When it does, the community will have only 20 business days to respond,” he said.
Mr Morris said the “sheer size” of the development in the Mornington Parkland Industrial Area would “put that pleasant, treed gateway to our town at risk”.
He said Mr Wynne had “sidelined the council and effectively ruled out any serious local input, because he knows our councillors will stand up for our community”.
“The same minister last week bypassed the council and approved a hydrogen liquefaction and loading terminal at Hastings,” Mr Morris said.
“The last time a minister intervened directly in local planning decisions was almost a decade ago when Justin Madden approved the Masters development … and what a white elephant that turned out to be.”
Mr Morris said Mr Wynne should “abandon his hand-picked panel and allow Mornington Peninsula Shire to consider this application on its merits”.
“Unfortunately, he won’t do that because he knows that these plans are a gross overdevelopment, on the wrong site, and that it simply doesn’t stack up.”
Mr Brennan said Kaufland was making a “significant investment in Australia that will generate thousands of jobs and create opportunities for local businesses”.
“An open and public process [was] now underway to consider the first six Victorian Kaufland stores, as well as our proposed Australian head office.”
Mr Brennan said Kaufland was “committed to engaging with local communities and partners in an honest, transparent and fair way.”
“Regardless of the prescribed planning process, Kaufland will continue to engage with local councils in whose communities we are seeking to invest.”