WOOLWORTHS has won approval to proceed with its new supermarket in Mullumbimby.
The supermarket giant had mounted a legal challenge in the NSW Land and Environment Court to Byron Shire Council’s rejection of its plans for an on-site sewerage system.
Court Commissioner Robert Hussey yesterday handed down his decision approving the Section 68 application made by the company in its legal battle with the council.
“Woolworths is very pleased by the Land and Environment Court decision to approve the on-site waste water treatment facility at Station Street, Mullumbimby,” spokesman for the retail giant Luke Schepen said.
“We look forward to commencing construction of the store as soon as possible, bringing jobs, choice and low prices to Mullumbimby.”
Mullumbimby Community Action Network coordinator Deborah Lilley has been fighting the Woolworths development.
She said she was ‘not surprised’ at the decision, saying the commissioner’s attitude at earlier hearings had seemed to be ‘how can we get this across the line?’
“It isn’t fair to Byron Shire Council and it doesn’t look like justice to me,” Ms Lilley said.
But all was not lost, she said.
“The decision will harden the resolve of the people of Mullumbimby to become more localised,” she said.
Ms Lilley said she didn’t expect many locals to shop at the supermarket when it opened.
Mallams supermarket sold the project to Woolworths. Mallams manager and part-owner John Waterhouse said the ‘silent majority’ in Mullumbimby would be thrilled to be getting a new supermarket.
He said the town desperately needed a larger supermarket to halt the outflow of people who regularly did their shopping in other centres.
Mr Waterhouse said Mallams would have dearly loved to do the project, and accused the council of reneging on an agreement.
He said the best reason for welcoming a new store was the continuity of employment it would offer his staff, and the new job opportunities provided.
“We currently have 60 local people on staff – 90 per cent of them married women or single mums supplementing the family benefit. Woolworths has told us they would need 100 staff,” he said.
“The company has interviewed every one of our staff and offered them a place.”