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

Strathalbyn farmer Peter Manuel  lead the community's charge against a proposed out-of-town development in 2014 and 2015.
Strathalbyn farmer Peter Manuel lead the community's charge against a proposed out-of-town development in 2014 and 2015.


When Coles, Bunnings and Aldi laid out their plans for super-sized stores in Victor Harbor, it divided the community. Although there was backlash against the proposal to rezone land for retail use, there was also strong support from a community desperate for new shopping options.

The City of Victor Harbor has a population of about 15,000 and growing. At the time of the rezoning there were concerns that any shopping precincts outside of the town would ruin the main street. But Ocean Street is an attraction on its own, with restaurants, pubs, a cinema and cafes.

The consensus is the main street will survive. And with locals already spending their money out of town at Seaford Aldi and Bunnings, the new stores should keep money and jobs within the district.

But you have to look at the town of Strathalbyn differently. With just over 5000 people in Strath, its heart lies in Dawson and High Streets. Tourists visit Strathalbyn for its charm, rural atmosphere, rolling country hills and to enjoy a coffee and shopping in the main streets. In 2014 the community strongly and passionately spoke up against plans for a retail development one kilometre out of the town’s centre.

Unlike the Victor Harbor situation, there was no division of opinion at Strath. A town hall meeting saw most of 400 people in strong opposition to developing rural land for anything but residential dwellings. A petition with 1500 signatures was presented in 2014. Strathalbyn farmer Peter Manuel (pictured) lead the Strathalbyn community's charge against the proposed development.

Alexandrina Council recently asked the Strath community what they want for their town. The ‘Immersion’ sessions were highly productive, and gave people the chance to see how their streets could be improved to help local business and traffic flow.

The council is now working to create a picture of how Strath could look in years to come. But Strath Property Investments have released a new master plan for their development before the council’s plan has been completed.

It seems clear cut. But if you are going to form an opinion, make sure you are informed about what is being proposed. The Strath Property Investments plan is included in The Times’ coverage. The proposal would definitely provide benefits for the community, but at what cost to existing business?