Strathalbyn ready for another fight against $150 million development outside of CBD | What are your thoughts?

RELATED: Benefit for the community, but at what cost? | OPINION

STRATHALBYN – Mayor Keith Parkes has condemned a developer’s latest attempt to lobby the state government to allow a $150 million development on the outskirts of Strathalbyn.

“It’s never going to happen,” Mr Parkes said.

Strath Property Investments this week revealed updated plans for developing 21-hectares of farmland one kilometre north of Strathalbyn’s town centre.

For a number of years the developer has lobbied the state government to rezone the land so it can build a retail and residential hub.

In 2014 ​Alexandrina Council knocked back plans for the development, and in 2015 planning minister John Rau confirmed he would not step in to rezone the land.

Mr Parkes said the developer “would not accept the umpire’s decision” and needed to wait for the council to complete its Strathalbyn Town Plan, which will guide any future development in the town.

The developer’s $150 million plans for the site include a supermarket, medical centre, aged care facilty, housing, sports stadium, petrol station and community garden.

“They’re trying to undermine the process, bullying their way through and lobbying the department,” Mr Parkes said. “They’re not prepared to wait while we undertake the process we’ve agreed to. It’s disrespectful.”

Strathalbyn business owners say the development would destroy the town’s main street. But the developer says the emotional response to the proposal is unjustified.

Strath Property Investments spokesman Nathan Paine said the retail component of the site would be small, with plans for “crucial” aged care and health facilities.

“The retail component is actually only a small part of the overall development,” Mr Paine said.

“The majority of the site is retirement, aged care, residential and a community living facility. 

“We’re very positive about the benefits that the proposal would provide for the community.

“Our disappointment has been in and around the emotional response to our proposal.”

Mr Parkes said the council needed to get on with creating a town plan, as directed by minister John Rau in 2015.

“If they want to have a fight, the people of Strathalbyn will give them one,” Mr Parkes said.

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RELATED: Strathalbyn retail development causes community concern

BUSINESS OWNER: Steven Giles has just completed a new shop fit-out of his cafe Bean Machine. He invested in his business after he thought plans for an out-of-town retail development were quashed.

BUSINESS OWNER: Steven Giles has just completed a new shop fit-out of his cafe Bean Machine. He invested in his business after he thought plans for an out-of-town retail development were quashed.

Uncertainty holds back growth in town centre

STRATHALBYN – The notion of a retail development outside of the Strathalbyn CBD is hindering business growth in the town, local traders say.

Strath Property Investments (SPI) has boasted updated plans for a $150 million “community and retail hub” one kilometre north of Strathalbyn.

After successfully fighting against the proposal in 2015, business owners are again uneasy about their future.

But SPI spokesman Nathan Paine said the development would complement the town. He said the proposed precinct would create 760 jobs and address the region’s aged care, childcare and community needs.

“We’ve locked in more users in terms of childcare and medical centres, and those are really important users,” Mr Paine said. “Access to childcare in the region is critically important.

“We know there is a forecast shortage of aged care beds in Strathalbyn. There are also a number of expert reports that have been prepared that show the population growth will absolutely support the retail uses.”

Dawson Street, Strathalbyn.

Dawson Street, Strathalbyn.

Strath Corner Bakery owner Brendan McDonald said he thought the proposal was “done and dusted” in 2015.

“It’s putting a lot of doubt in the minds of established business owners here,” Mr McDonald said. “They are very nervous about spending money on improvements to their businesses.

“If you look historically at other towns, the main commercial shopping precinct is going to be decimated if it goes ahead. Nobody will profit.

“It’s been rejected by the community, by the council and by the state government.”

Cafe owner Steven Giles had just completed a renovation of his Dawson Street business Bean Machine, thinking that the development was not going ahead.

“Had I known that the development was still on the cards I would have been hesitant to invest money in this business,” Mr Giles said.

Resident and business consultant Rick Cairney said the developer’s claim of creating 760 jobs was ludicrous.

“People, even those just travelling from the Adelaide, constantly say they come to Strathalbyn because it is a beautiful, idyllic rural town that has a unique ambience,” Mr Cairney said.

“All this is doing is creating unnecessary stress and strain on the small businesses in the town and preventing investment.

“If the developer really wants to do the right thing by the Strathalbyn community then it’s time for the developer to stop hindering investment in the town centre and making life difficult for people and accept the decision of Council and the Minister.

“Currently there are three vacant retail premises in the town centre.

“In addition, we have a local IGA in the town. Woolworths has just completed an expansion of their supermarket including an expanded car park.

“The population could not support another supermarket.”

Mayor Keith Parkes said Strathalbyn needed another aged care facility, but said it should be located within the township.

“Strathalbyn’s a beautiful town and we don’t want to spoil it,” Mayor Parkes said.

“We just need to get on with the process that we started on direction by the minister.”

For more, and to see plans for the site, visit www.victorharbortimes.com.au