John Wightman from Pottsville IGA
John Wightman from Pottsville IGA Blainey Woodham

$6m down the drain

OWNER of Pottsville's IGA supermarket John Wightman is wondering why he invested millions of dollars in a new store when Tweed Shire Council planning rules for the coastal town may be open to change at the whim of a major developer.

“We wouldn't have spent five-and-a-half-to-six million dollars two years ago if we thought this was going to happen,” said Mr Wightman, who with other businesses is opposing a bid by developer Metricon to resubmit plans for a shopping centre in its nearby Seabreeze housing estate.

In 2008 the then council administrators decided to fight Metricon in the NSW Land and Environment Court after refusing plans for a major supermarket and shopping complex in the estate.

The council won the battle with the support of the Pottsville business community, but current councillors are today due to consider a request from Metricon for a behind-closed-doors meeting to push its case for submitting amended plans.

Mr Wightman said he thought the battle had been won and the Council's recently approved development plan for Pottsville made it clear any new supermarkets should be in the central business area.

He said his store even assisted the Council in its $560,000 court expenses fighting Metricon in late 2008. “We find it quite unbelievable the Mayor (Cr Warren Polglase) wants to suddenly have a private workshop with Metricon,” Mr Wightman said.

“We've just been through extensive consultation with Council officers with the new Pottsville plan that was approved.

“In that plan there have been several sites mooted for a large supermarket.

“We expressed to Council officers that we would be very interested in developing a large Supa-IGA store.

“It doesn't have to be a Woolworths or Coles.

“From a business point of view this is not very encouraging.

“People invest in this area and come to live here because they know what's going to happen.”

Cr Polglase has asked other councillors to consider a special meeting with Metricon which says it is about to make a decision on developing the land in question.

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