Giant retailer set to move into Murwillumbah

The proposed site for the new Woolworths supermarket at the former bowls club. Image Tweed Shire Council

The proposed site for the new Woolworths supermarket at the former bowls club. Image Tweed Shire Council

Luis Feliu

Move over Murwillumbah, giant food retailer Woolworths wants a piece of the action, but around 11 existing businesses will have to close shop.

That’s what an economic assessment reckons, but Tweed Shire Council planners have recommended it go ahead and many shop owners in town are not happy.

A packed public gallery is expected tonight for council’s decision on the contentious proposal, which was debated this week at a public meeting in Murwillumbah.

At that meeting, angry business owners railed against the plans by the retailer to build a 4,000-square-metre full-line supermarket at the town’s former old bowls club in Brisbane Street.

If approved, the new Woolies supermarket will compete will Coles in Sunnyside Mall and two smaller supermarkets in the CBD, plus a new one opened recently on the northern outskirts of town.

The move requires the rezoning of the site of the defunct Murwillumbah Bowls and Sports Club, which amalgamated with Murwillumbah Services Club four years ago.
But the bowls club ceased trading two years ago and other plans were made for the site.

In his report to council, chief planner Vince Connell said there were pros and cons for extending the commercial core precinct of Murwillumbah into Brisbane Street, a mainly residential area.

Mr Connell said ‘whether there is broad community support for the proposal is as yet unknown’ and that anecdotal evidence repeatedly indicated ‘a demand within the broader community for a second full-line supermarket’ in Murwillumbah.

He said he had considered ‘the very limited potential for higher housing density opportunities owing to flooding constraints’ in the area, and ‘the proposal, which is essentially an extension of the Town’s current “core commercial precinct”, is considered worthy of further investigation’.

A section of the crowd at the public meeting to debate the Woolworths proposal, held at Murwillumbah Golf Club on Tuesday night. Photo supplied

A section of the crowd at the public meeting to debate the Woolworths proposal, held at Murwillumbah Golf Club on Tuesday night. Photo supplied

The retailer’s report says there is a sufficient and growing population of around 22,000 people, rising to 24,000 persons by 2026, ‘which, based on their industry benchmark of full-line supermarket viability every 8,000-9,000 persons, places Murwillumbah Town Centre well within a serviceable category’.

‘Of the 126 retail shop-fronts within the town centre, it is estimated that the new supermarket would only compete directly with the 11 specialty businesses comprising of: butchers, bakeries and fruit shop, as well as other existing supermarkets,’ the report said.

‘It is further estimated the new supermarket would contribute about $17m of additional supermarket spend within the trade area, and that during and post construction phases upward of 609 jobs are likely to be generated both directly and indirectly.’

For those reasons, the report said, the benefits would outweigh the impact in the shorter term on a small number of businesses.

Tweed mayor Gary Bagnall, a former Murwillumbah cafe owner, told Tuesday’s public meeting that he won’t support the supermarket because of its impact on local businesses.

Cr Bagnall told Echonetdaily he was disappointed to see business owners in town had not backed him trying to stop a new McDonalds takeaway eatery which opened last year, which he estimates has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars out of town.

He said it was also ‘bad planning’ to put a major supermarket in a predominantly residential area.

The McDonalds issue motivated Cr Bagnall to stand for council election.


4 responses to “Giant retailer set to move into Murwillumbah”

  1. JM says:

    Murwillumbah, here’s hoping you can succeed where Mullum was trampled – keep those greedy bastards out!

  2. Steven Frank says:

    Cheaper prices, more jobs. Woolies, stay the hell out of M’bah. We’ve had enough of these Aussie owned companies upsetting our NIMBY existence. Any , BTW, who cares if you started as a small discount store 90 odd years ago and have made success story of it. Not everyone needs to save. We have our dignity. Go to Mt. Druitt with your discounts!

  3. Mick says:

    But what about the number of businesses this will destroy ? These people can`t just sell up & move on ,this will render their investments worthless ……think of how you would feel ,

  4. Paul says:

    It will only affect 11 businesses in town.

    At the moment the site is abandoned and vandalised by drunken youth. The development would create jobs and be much more convenient for many people who don’t want to walk up the ramp to Coles.

    Coles is packed every week day, we need another supermarket.

    NIMBYS are holding the town back, when we desperately need some development.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Become a supporter of The Echo

A note from the editorial team

Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

The Echo has never underestimated the intelligence and passion of its readers. In a world of corporate banality and predictability, The Echo has worked hard for more than 30 years to help keep Byron and the north coast unique with quality local journalism and creative ideas. We think this area needs more voices, reasoned analysis and ideas than just those provided by News Corp, lifestyle mags, Facebook groups and corporate newsletters.

The Echo is one hundred per cent locally owned and one hundred per cent independent. As you have probably gathered from what is happening in the media industry, it is not cheap to produce a weekly newspaper and a daily online news service of any quality.

We have always relied entirely on advertising to fund our operations, but often loyal readers who value our local, independent journalism have asked how they could help ensure our survival.

Any support you can provide to The Echo will make an enormous difference. You can make a one-off contribution or a monthly one. With your help, we can continue to support a better informed local community and a healthier democracy for another 30 years.”

Echonetdaily is made possible by the support of all of our advertisers.