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BREAKING NEWS: Mosman To Get New Woolworths After Court Ruling

Mosman is set to get a brand-new Woolworths, with the Land & Environment Court approving a new retail operation following a bitter fight by a small group of vocal residents and select councillors.

The decision in favour of Woolworths was expected, with a small group of protesters supported by Mosman Council, in particular Mayor Caroline Corrigan, set to cost Mosman ratepayers up to $1M in legal fees after they chose to ignore the advice of three key consultants who said the Woolworths application complied.

GM of Property Development at Woolworths Andrew Loveday said ” We’re delighted the Land and Environment Court has found our development application for a Metro store at 731-741 Military Road, Mosman, suitable for approval.

We are reviewing the conditions outlined in the court’s decision in detail”.

He added “We look forward to delivering local residents a vibrant and convenient shopping experience that is sensitive to the unique village feel of Mosman.

Reflecting the strong interest in our plans over a number of years, we will keep local residents, community groups and local businesses informed on our next steps and will provide a timeline for the community shortly”.

During the application process for a DA, Woolworths accused Mosman Council of making up planning rules “on the run” in its attempt to block the supermarket giant from opening a store, which many Mosman residents had supported.

The claims were made in the course of legal action bought by a Council who are also fighting to take control of planning applications for homes on the foreshore, outside of NSW Government current planning regulations.

Mr Pickles SC, counsel for Mosman Council, claimed the application should be rejected based on topics including Heritage issues, parking & traffic, car parking provision and pedestrian safety as well as lane widening issues at the rear of the approved development.

He claimed that, individually and collectively, the contentions represent a site that is unsuited to the proposed development and should be refused.

Commissioner Horton responded in his ruling within days of the hearing: “After considering all of the evidence before the Court, and for the reasons that follow, I find the development application warrants the granting of consent.”

Several observers believe the move to spend ratepayer money, which some say could be up to $1M, on a case which many observers said the Council could not win, sparked a backlash among some residents, who said the council was wasting ratepayers’ money defending Woolworths’ appeal.

Corrigan, who is standing for Mayor in the December Council elections, claims Mosman needs to retain a “village culture”.

This was rejected by Commissioner Horton in the Land & Environment Court.

Mosman Councilor Roy Bendall said, “It is no surprise that Council has lost the battle with Woolworths. Council should have negotiated for a community outcome (parking , new library etc), just saying no all the time is a waste of resources, which could have been spent on Council-run childcare, or services like meals on wheels and community buses. A pragmatic approach needs to be adopted.”

Mosman Mayor Carolyn Corrigan was so determined to try to defeat Woolworths, who had a history of winning against Mosman Council, put forward a mayoral minute at one council meeting to “quarantine” sufficient legal expenses to defend the council’s ill-fated attempt to beat Woolworths, who had already purchased millions of dollars’ worth of property facing Military Road.

When Woolworths owned the Dan Murphy’s liquor operation, Mosman Council objected to a new store in the suburb, with the same group of protesters, along with several local councillors, costing ratepayers more than $600,000 in legal fees when the Land and Environment Court approved the store.

Ironically, none of the claims made by Corrigan and protesters led by former Mayor Peter Abelson came to fruition, including traffic congestion and noise issues as claimed.

Financial reports show the council boosted their 2019/2020 legal budget for development services by $200,000 – taking the total to $662,000, which has now been exceeded Because Mosman Council has lost several cases during the past 12 months in the Land & Environment Court, including a major case in Stanton Road Mosman.

Cr Corrigan told the Daily Telegraph that it remains to be seen exactly how much the Woolworths appeal would incur in legal fees, allocating funding from the budget increase was about sending a clear message the council will stick by its guns. “$200,000 is not limited (to the challenge but) it’s about sending a message to the community that this will be fought,” she said.

Mosman Councillor Roy Bendall questioned whether legal costs could run higher than $200,000, pointing to the significant legal fees associated with previous legal challenges including the Dan Murphy’s appeal.

See full ruling here.


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