A bottleshop will be built on the vacant lot that formerly housed Parktown Autos on the edge of the Tumut CBD.
The former car yard has been empty for the past five years, and has become something of an eyesore in recent times.
Under the plans, the existing showroom and service garage will be converted into the new bottleshop, with a new shopfront on Russell Street and new drive-through roofline.
The existing car yard area will be used for parking.
At Tuesday’s council meeting development staff recommended approval of the development application, though there were several written objections from three existing bottleshop operators in Tumut, most focusing on the problem of increased competition – which council staff indicated was not a valid planning consideration – and social impacts.
While there were already four other bottleshops in close proximity, the council didn’t have the power to prevent similar businesses from operating; and the impact on the commercial viability of other bottleshops, including loss of trade, was also outside the council’s scope in issuing consent, according to the council.
The proposed development had a right to establish itself, compete with other businesses and promote economic growth, a report recommending approval of the development stated.
Cr Scott Stevenson, who voted against approval, expressed concerns about the impact on the community of another alcohol outlet and asked if a social impact statement was required from the developer.
But council staff said such a report was not considered necessary, and a similar, community impact statement, would be required in the process of obtaining a liquor licence.
Development officer Dialina Da Costa, in her report to the council, said the development was not expected to give rise to adverse social impacts, pointing out the shop will be used to sell alcohol, and not be a premises where alcohol is consumed.
She said the social impacts were not expected to be near that of a hotel, and the existing Woolworths bottleshop had no history of anti-social behaviour or criminal activity attached to it.
There will be security lighting, CCTV coverage and the hours of operation will be similar to those of the adjacent Coles supermarket.
Police had indicated to the council they were not aware of any specific crime related impacts for bottle shops.
But Oriental Hotel licensee Col Woodman said Tumut didn’t need another licensed venue, given the existing pubs, clubs and bottleshops in the area.
“Granting another bottleshop facility in Tumut clearly does not meet any community need, particularly when the proposed site is in a heavy density area of town for licensed venues,” Mr Woodman said.
He said Tumut was above the state average in alcohol-related assaults; and the shire was also above the state average in the number of liquor licences issued (30) on a per capita basis. He conceded he was primarily concerned about the impact of increased competition, and accepted the council could not take that into consideration.
But the new store would likely lead to job losses, and possible closure of other bottleshops, particularly if one of the big chains operated the store, he said.
“Retail margins are already at an all time low and further competition, while good for the public initially on price, will be detrimental in so many ways later on.
“We only need to look at what has happened with service stations in town since the supermarkets moved into fuel, and now Tumut is one of the highest fuel-paying towns in the state.”
The developer, John Krnc, was unavailable for comment in regards to a start to the project, nor the name of the liquor. The project will be managed by local builder, Wayne Hickson.