Precinct magazine

Issue 5/2008 Pages 1-13

Linda Daniele

Erskineville residents have won their campaign to halt a proposal to build a two-storey supermarket, successfully arguing it would destroy the village atmosphere of the suburb.

More than 4,000 people signed petitions in shops and online and nearly 300 objections were sent to City of Sydney Council and Woolworths. Council also received 12 letters of support.

The application was refused in May after the high level of opposition delayed the process. The development was inconsistent with the council’s planning controls and would not contribute to the character of Erskineville village, said Giovanni Cirillo, council Director of City Plannning.

“The scale and instensity of the proposed supermarket, additional traffic generated and detrimental impact on this area would not respect, improve or enhace the urban village character,” said Cirillo.

Council also found tat the supermarket would not be sensitive to the “environmental capacity” of the area, and that the proposed upper floor of the development did not satisfy heritage conservation provisions.

These are the same concerns of the community action group, Friends of Erskineville Village. “Erskineville Road and the small streets of the area were designed for 19th-century traffic volumes, spokesperson Laura MacFarlane says. “A supermarket like the one proposed [would] just cause further congestion in an already overloaded system.”

Councillor Shayne Mallard, who has previously voiced his concerns, was not surprised by the decision. “Erskineville Road si already grid-locked and the roundabout has 150 cars an hour passing through,” he says. “The campaign against the supermarket succeeded because it’s part of a broader issue around Australia.”

“It’s part of a backlash against large-chain supermarkets and the unfair advantage they have,” says Mallard.

The developer Artro Management was seeking council approval to excavate and partially demolish the warehouse building, formerly used as the Mardi Gras headquaters.

In its place a 21328-square-meter, two-level supermarket and specialty store was to have been erected, with a rear loading-dock and a basement car park for 31 vehicles.

Artro Management have not confirmed whether they will appeal against the decision. They lodged the application on behalf of the owners of the building and are awaiting instructions from the client, said Roy Vigdor, director of Artro Management.

The Friends of Erskineville Village group celebrated their success with locals on May 30 at the Rose Hotel in Erskineville.