Herald Sun | Monday 5 November 2018
RETAILERS have railed against a plan by multinational monolith Kaufland to set up shop in the Mornington area.
They say the German juggernaut is riding roughshod over planning laws and getting “a free kick” into the local market.
State Planning Minister Richard Wynne has appointed a committee to look at proposals by the chain for sites in Mornington and other areas including Dandenong.
Kaufland stores will have an in-house bakery, deli, butchery, cafe as well as a conventional grocery and Kmart styled department section and be up to 20,000sq m in size.
But independent store owners such as FoodWorks, IGA and Friendly Grocers have set up a campaign, Save our Shops, to try and stop the company setting up a megastore at the Bata Shoes site on Nepean Highway.
They are calling for the government to give planning powers back to local councils.
IGA Mt Martha’s Rod Allen said their campaign was designed to make foreign-owned companies compete on the same playing field as local small businesses.
“The Government is giving the German Chain an unfair advantage over local shops by going around local government planning processes and using the Minister to re-zone so mega stores can be dropped onto local communities with all profits to be taken offshore and not spent in the local community,” Mr Allen said.
“Any initial increases in employment will be more than offset when local shops are forced to shed labour as their businesses suffer.”
Master Grocers Association chief executive Jos De Bruin said the approvals process gave overseas competitors an unfair advantage.
But retail expert Dr Gary Mortimer said Kaufland was a “destination retailer” and not a drop-in shop so independent fresh food retailers should not be impacted significantly.
Mayor Bryan Payne said the Kaufland development had been removed from the normal local planning process because Mr Wynne had set up the ‘Kaufland Stores in Victoria Advisory Committee’ to assess it.
Council has released an ‘awareness paper’ to keep residents informed and raises concerns that the development will:
* “destroy” the prominent entry gateway to Mornington;
* A 20m high and 60m-long advertising sign on top of the building will permanently dominate the ‘green’ gateway skyline of the entry into Mornington; and
* Hit retail the retail economy in the Mornington village and result in vacant shops in Main St.
Mornington state Liberal MP David Morris said he had no problem with any retailer coming to Mornington.
“But the community expects them to set up for business in one of the existing retail areas, and to comply with the same rules as our existing traders do,” he said.
“Unfortunately that’s not the case with this proposal.”
Mr Morris said Kaufland wanted to rezone cheaper industrial land on the edge of Mornington, away from the existing retail centres.
“While the land can be used for shops, the existing rules impose a maximum size of 1800 sqm.
“Reports indicate the proposed store will be at least 17,000 sqm, almost 10 times the permitted size.
“The site is part of the Mornington Parkland Industrial Area, the gateway to Mornington.
“Any development is currently required to be set back 90m from the Nepean Highway.
“The sheer size of this development will put that pleasant, treed gateway to our town at risk.”
Mr Morris said Mr Wynne should abandon his hand-picked panel and allow the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council to consider the application on its merits.
Kaufland did not answer the Leader’s questions before deadline.
To sign the petition, go to saveourshops.com.au/