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COMMENT: Why Did Fin Review Edit Mosman Woolworths Story?

COMMENT: The big question around Mosman today, is who lobbied the Nine Media owned Financial Review, to take negative comments about Mosman Mayor Carolyn Corrigan, out of a story about the granting of a development application for a new Woolworths Metro in the suburb by the NSW Land & Environment Court.

In an earlier version of the story that went up at 9.07am at the Financial Review online site, Aaron Patrick who is described as a senior correspondent who writes about politics and business from the Sydney newsroom, claimed that Mosman mayor Carolyn Corrigan played to anti-development sentiment from wealthy retirees by forcing the supermarket chain to appeal the council’s veto.

This is the original story. Click to see the amended story.

See New story here.

By mid-afternoon on Friday these comments were taken out of the story raising questions among locals at Balmoral Beach coffee shops as to why and who complained to the Financial Review.

There is no evidence that Corrigan forced Woolworths to appeal the Council’s veto. What she did was lobby the Council and support objectors to the proposal.

One observer said of the Council’s actions “The objectors to this proposal are key Corrigan supports in the upcoming local election and everyone knows she was against the Woolworths application for a Metro store”.

Mosman Mayor Carolyn Corrigan

Patrick claimed that Corrigan, has twice run for the NSW Parliament as an independent. (She failed to be elected on both occasions).

The council who was supported by Corrigan in their move to reject their application, hired two barristers and the HWL Ebsworth law firm a move that is set to cost the local municipality close to $1M.

Corrigan is close to a small group of protesters as well as the Federal member for Warringah Zali Steggall, whose supports also campaigned against the new Woolworths Metro.

Now she is facing a battle to retain her seat as the Mayor of Mosman as many residents were supportive of the new Woolworths Metro which many observers believe will stimulate retail in Mosman which during COVID lockdowns saw more than 30 retail locations shut up shop.

At the local Warringah Bowls Club in Mosman, residents who meet there on a Wednesday night, were angry that the decision to force the Woolworths DA application into the Land and Environment Court was costing the residents of Mosman close to $1M in legal fees.

This “unnecessary” expenditure by the Council who has a track record of failure in the Land & Environment Court is on top of the $600,000 that the same group opposing the Woolworths application cost ratepayers, when they lobbied Mosman Council to oppose a Dan Murphy liquor store which is now one of the most popular stores in Mosman.

During COVID lockdowns the Council fought two major cases in the Land & Environment Court, they lost both, they included a new retail/ apartment complex at Avenue Road Mosman, which when it was originally proposed included free additional car parking spaces.

This was taken off the table when the developer won a DA approval.

The Council also lost a case relating to a multimillion-dollar private resident development in Stanton Road Mosman.

SmartHouse understands that Corrigan has already approached Mosman General Manager Dominic Johnson to lodge an appeal against last week’s decision.

Former Mayor Peter Abelson who believes the decision was wrong to grant a DA and was key supporter against the proposal believe an appeal will be “futile”.

“We will lose” he said.

He confirmed that Corrigan is pushing for an appeal.

Patrick claimed that Woolworths’ victory in the NSW Land and Environment Court shouldn’t have been necessary.

The small group of residents who objected argued Woolworths would put their local providores and an overpriced IGA outlet out of business.

They also tried to stack the local Mosman Club, by flooding the club with new members. The club is right next to the development and the protesters were concerned that the club would cut a deal with Woolworths.

Protesters to the Woolworths development complained about car hoards along Military Road, a thoroughfare disproportionally popular with Range Rovers and four-wheel drive Porsches according to the Financial Review.

The Financial Review claimed that the arguments were dishonest in substance and motivation, and a sadly common example of the manipulation of urban planning for the rich.

Mosman’s traffic expert said the 18 car parks offered by Woolworths would be overrun, creating congestion that would spread across nearby streets.

The commissioner, Timothy Horton, found the calculation was based on the 99th percentile of predicted demand, and 18 would be more than adequate. The traffic argument was bogus. Horton determined a lack of grocery shops drove people to the nearest Woolworths – in their cars.

Critics claimed Woolworths would damage the district’s “village” atmosphere, a concept so amorphous a heritage consultant could only explain it by placing the adjective in quotation marks.

In reality, Mosman residents engaged in suburban snobbery under the cover of heritage protection.

They don’t want to share shopping space with Mosman High School students or the young professionals who lack the free time to shop during the day or the inclination to pay $10 for a punnet of raspberries from the neighbourhood fruit shop claimed Aaron Patrick.

Patrick did claim that Corrigan express pride last week, as COP26 began in Glasgow, that her council has committed the residents of Mosman to no net emissions of Greenhouse gases by 2040.

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