Liquor store hearing

TRAFFIC flow in an already congested York and Cunninghame Sts intersection and saturation of Sale’s liquor market were the key reasons behind Wellington Liquor Accord’s opposition to chain liquor store Dan Murphy’s arrival in Sale.

Planning Panels Victoria will now prepare a report following Wednesday’s hearing at Gippsland Regional Sports Complex, where it recommended Dan Murphy’s report back to it within 10 days on whether the chain had a policy or stance on joining the accord.

Woolworths-owned chain liquor store Dan Murphy’s made an application to Wellington Shire Council last year to rezone a Cunninghame St residential property, between the existing Beaurepaires tyre service and the Ambulance Victoria station, in order to develop a store on the corner of York and Cunninghame Sts.

Wellington Shire councillors unanimously supported the recommendation to refer the combined planning scheme amendment and planning permit application to the minister in July, with Paul Feltis and Jim Ryan making a submission on behalf of Wellington Liquor Accord at the panel hearing.

The submission raised an already saturated liquor market and traffic flow at an already congested intersection as major concerns, and was critical of the “heavy handed” approach of proponents and store developers R & C Property Investments, care of Perry Town Planning, who hired Melbourne’s leading QC Jeremy Gobbo for the hearing.

Mr Feltis said with 46 licensed venues in Sale, this quantified, per capita, 282 people per license in the town.

He said the information already submitted regarding the number of licenses in the cluster was not accurate.

“The state government have created the guidelines of ‘planning practice note 61 to assist councils in planning decision like this one, and we believe the evidence is conclusive the proposed site already contains a saturation of liquor licences,” Mr Feltis said.

Mr Feltis said the proposed Dan Murphy Liquor barn retail floor space would be equal to the current combined floor space of all liquor outlets in Sale. He said consumer spend at the Dan Murphy’s store would take a huge amount of retail spend and also impact on locally owned small businesses, who gave back to the community through sponsorship to organisations such as local sporting clubs.

Mr Ryan raised concerns regarding traffic flow, with motorists confronted with hazardous conditions due to poor visibility and the need to break into bottleneck traffic.

“This corner already provides for a traffic hazard day and night,” he said.

“Traffic is daily banked up from the McDonalds drive through back into York St; on occasion this line up is more than 20 cars deep. Similar traffic also banks up on the Red Rooster corner.

Council’s submission suggested a traffic report had been completed, and concluded the proposal would not generate any adverse traffic issues.

In summing up, QC Gobbo denied the store would contribute to negative social impacts, saying there were already existing options for people in Sale who wished to pre-load.

He said Dan Murphy’s would stock a much broader range, particularly wine, with new products not on offer in Sale.

“People may be spending money that they otherwise may not have,” QC Gobbo said.

“There will be a diversion of trade from existing licenced premises, but not all will be impacted and it will be spread widely across operators.

“There are various options across the CBD and it very rarely happens that a new introduction causes competitors to close.”

´╗┐For more read Friday’s Gippsland Times.