Feud looms over proposed Gordonvale Woolworths
A JUDGE will decide the fate of a controversial Woolworths development at Gordonvale after the grocery giant failed to convince the new council to approve the plans.
Cairns Mayor Bob Manning and his councillors were given a presentation by Woolworths earlier this month in a bid by the company to settle the matter out of court.
But the new councillors yesterday voted 9-1 to stick to a decision made by the former Val Schier-led council, which blocked the proposed shopping precinct on Draper Rd in May last year. "We can understand where the people, who are lobbying both ways, are coming from," Cr Manning said.
"The conclusion we've come to is that this is the best course of action to take."
Cr Manning said the council took into consideration the impact of a 3200sqm supermarket on the existing Gordonvale town square.
It is estimated about 12 local business, such as the chemist and bakery, would suffer if the development went ahead.
But Division 1 councillor Steve Brain, whose ward takes in the historic sugar town, voted against his fellow councillors.
Cr Brain said many residents at Gordonvale were calling for a second supermarket and were frustrated by how far they had to drive to reach a "decent sized" grocery store. "Quite wholeheartedly, the community have felt that a second supermarket in Gordonvale is both warranted and needed," he said.
"I understand council's position - they really have to back their planning guidelines - but I would prefer to see that second supermarket."
The matter will return to Cairns' planning and environment court, where Woolworths' property development arm, Fabcot, is appealing against the council's refusal.
"While Woolworths is disappointed by today's decision, we would like to sincerely thank members of the Gordonvale community for the overwhelming support they showed for a new neighbourhood shopping centre," a Woolworths spokesman said.
Cr Brain said resolving the Woolworths dispute would allow other interested developers to consider investing at Gordonvale.
Cr Manning insists development at Gordonvale needs to occur in the designated zone for a town centre, whereas Woolworths' proposal is 700m west of that zone.
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Fresh feud people: An artist's impression of the proposed Woolworths development at Gordonvale.