A crowd of protestors cheer while burning a Woolworths representation at the proposed site during Saturday's rally.
A crowd of protestors cheer while burning a Woolworths representation at the proposed site during Saturday's rally. Brenden Allen

Protest hots up against Woolies

SMOKE billowed into the air as a replica Woolworths store burnt to the ground in Mullumbimby on Saturday.

Organised by the Mullumbimby Community Action Group, an estimated 200 residents met to protest against changes to the development application submitted by Woolworths for a supermarket on the edge of town.

In the objection letter to NSW Planning Minister Frank Sartor the group said Woolworths had now applied to build both stages of the 2500sq m development at the same time.

Woolworths had also reduced the area of the on-site sewage treatment plant to just 475sq m, one-third of the area proposed for the original first stage of the development.

Despite council recommendations that waste water be held for 60 days, especially given that rainfall in the area is high, Woolworths was proposing to hold sewage for just seven days in on-site storage. 

The action group said changes to the building design were "cosmetic only" and "did nothing to mitigate the visual and environmental impact of such a large and visually offensive development".

The letter also stated that "moving the car park entrance to the southern end would do nothing to mitigate the traffic chaos and congestion the development would create in Station Street and its impact on the use of Tincogan Street as a town bypass".

Residents have until Friday to submit their objections to the changes.

According to action group member Garry Scott, the group had been working "flat out" to ensure the community was able to voice its concerns about the development, which many feared would result in a loss of local business and community identity.

Byron Shire mayor Jan Barham said the real issue was state planning laws. She said the town had been 'done over'.

Mullumbimby real estate agent Mark Cochrane said the community was not "getting a fair go", and encouraged community members to "get together and work together to achieve results".

Mullumbimby resident Rhys Brenton did not want Woolworths in the town.

"I'm absolutely disgusted that one man (Frank Sartor) can change a rule that affects everyone. That's not democracy," Mr Brenton said.

But resident Richard Kidby welcomed Woolworths. He said many shopkeepers 'were ambivalent' about the development.

"Everyone here in business wants to make a profit, and if you can't accept competition then you don't go into business," he said.


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