Traders to challenge new $50m Cairns complex
DEVELOPERS are ready to start building a new $50 million shopping centre at Smithfield but they're expecting a legal challenge from local traders who don't want another complex opening on their patch.
Trinity Park Investments yesterday won council approval for a 19,400sq m shopping centre on the Captain Cook Highway, two years after their original plans for a sprawling $500 million town square development were scotched by the former Val Schier-led council.
Brisbane-based director Steve Pellegrino said he was ready to walk away from building on the vacant block of land after that refusal in 2011 but he was encouraged by the new council's tack with developers.
"There's a different feel about Cairns and a different administration," he said.
"We've all seen now what happens when you allow an anti-development council to come in and dim that great pillar of the local economy, which is construction."
He said about 500 jobs would be created during construction of the new shopping centre which will include a large hardware store, a supermarket and specialty shops.
But Mr Pellegrino anticipates the start date will be delayed by a courtroom stoush because existing retailers at Smithfield have signalled they don't want the new centre to be built.
An economic analysis of the area in 2010 found there was an oversupply of gardening and hardware stores in Smithfield that would persist until 2030. And a new supermarket wouldn't be needed until 2020.
A group of traders from the Smithfield Shopping Centre opposed Mr Pellegrino's plans for the Smithfield Town Centre two years ago, and spokesman Nick Loukas insists nothing has changed since then to warrant a new development in the area.
"Of course Cairns needs jobs, of course Cairns needs development but it has got to fit with what we need," Mr Loukas said.
"Approving something before it's needed is just short-term gain for long-term pain.
"The Clifton Beach shopping centre has struggled for five to eight years because it was given approval before it was actually needed."
Eight out of 10 councillors voted to approve the plans yesterday, saying knocking back the proposal would tie up the council in an unwanted and costly legal battle.
"Any of us who are in business, we don't want to see opposition opening up over the road, I understand that perfectly," Mayor Bob Manning said.
"However there are planning schemes in place. Provided the proposal is in compliant, the council is bound to it."
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Opposition: Traders at the Smithfield Shopping Centre are opposed to a major new development in the area.