Proposal stirs public disquiet

IT wasn't until she went to the Yamba markets on Sunday that Maclean business owner Nicki Holmes recognised what she says is the depth of public disquiet over the Clarence Valley Council's decision to sell Cameron Park in Maclean to IGA to develop a supermarket.

She said she had simply gone there to shop, but about 20 people had sought her out to express their opposition.

Ms Holmes, who owns Eklektika in River St, said people may have known she was opposed to the supermarket proposal but was still surprised by the level of concern.

She said her business might even increase in value because it could provide a linkage between the main street and the proposed new supermarket, but still believed it was not in the best interests of the town.

She said a new supermarket was not needed, would be ugly, uncompetitive with Coles in Yamba or supermarkets in Grafton, posed a threat to existing businesses and would be disruptive to business and parking during construction.

“I think those who support the development are quite sincere in their belief it will benefit their business, but I think they are wrong,” she said.

“Maclean is teetering on the edge. We could be as attractive as a Bangalow or a Bellingen, but we are in danger of turning it into just another country town in Australia where everything looks the same.”

CBD resident Ian McLennan said he had spoken to a number of businesses and many hadn't been aware of the scale of the supermarket proposal until they saw an overlay of the footprint in The Daily Examiner last Thursday.

“People are terribly concerned,” he said.

“It is hard to find a parking spot on busy days in Maclean now, this will just make it worse.

“I'm sure the chambers of commerce in Yamba and Grafton would be rubbing their hands together with Maclean getting a second-tier supermarket.

“People will still shop elsewhere.”

But the Maclean Chamber of Commerce's said investment in a new supermarket would provide incentive for the town's key landholders to participate in the revitalisation of the main town area.

“Already several businesses are planning to revamp their premises to provide additional pedestrian linkage between the new supermarket site and the main street,” president of the chamber, Ed Munday said.

He said IGA had committed to providing about 100 car parking spaces, most under cover, and the council would have about $1.5 million available to offset the existing places elsewhere.

That would leave about $1 million to “spruce up” the CBD.

He said the chamber would monitor the project to ensure strong linkages with the CBD, no nett loss of parking spaces and retail space that would offer a full-line supermarket.

“We are delighted that council's decision facilitates those outcomes,” he said.