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Bloomfield supermarket back on the agenda after 2020 rejection by councillors

April 24, 2024




By Peter Holmes


A supermarket at the Bloomfield Medical Centre is back on the agenda, with Orange City Council (OCC) considering amending its own Local Environment Plan to allow such a development.


Council is seeking public comment on the change, as a “neighbourhood supermarket” is currently not permitted in the R1 Zone. 




A Planning Proposal (PP) prepared for James Richmark Pty Ltd “seeks to amend Schedule 1 of Orange Local Environmental Plan 2011 (the LEP) to permit a neighbourhood supermarket with a maximum gross floor area (GFA) of 650m2 as an Additional Permitted Use (APU) on the subject land”.


“The intention is to offer convenience to local workers and residents but not detract from the Orange CBD as the principal retail centre,” states the proposal.

Known as Amendment 40, the planning change would allow for a supermarket in an area of the Bloomfield Medical Centre known as Precinct 1.


According to the PP prepared for James Richmark Pty Ltd, Precinct 1 has been approved for “health facilities such as pathology, medical imaging, medical suites, chemist and the like; as well as retail activities, including a convenience store; newsagent; hairdresser; shops; restaurant; and takeaway food and drink premises”. 






OCC papers.


It states that the approved floor area breakdown is:


• Health facilities over three tenancies with an aggregate area of 3,062 square metres.


 • Retail space over 12 tenancies ranging from 102-293 square metres, with an aggregate area of 1,791 square metres.


Stage 1 of the approved building has been constructed, however now the issue is how to fill it. A supermarket would be considered an attractive anchor tenant, and one that could attract other retailers. 

The amount of approved retail floor space for Precinct 1 would not be increased, the proposal states. “The balance of the already approved [gross floor area] for retail space (i.e. some 1,141m2 ) would be shared across other convenience shops within the approved building and may include a newsagent, bottle shop, takeaway food, bakery, fresh food and the like”. 


The proposal sought a “Gateway determination under Section 3.34 of the Act”.


“The gateway determination is a checkpoint for a planning proposal to review strategic and site-specific merit and whether the planning proposal should proceed to public exhibition,” says the NSW government [see full explanation below].



OCC papers.

Following a staff report in December 2023 recommending councillors "support the proposal in principle and direct staff to refer the matter to the Department of Planning and Environment for a Gateway Determination", Orange City Council CEO David Waddell forwarded the PP to the state government.


He received a response from Garry Hopkins, the director for Western Region at the Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure. Hopkins is a delegate of the minister for planning and public spaces Paul Scully.




“I am writing in response to the planning proposal you have forwarded to the Minister,” said Hopkins. “... I have determined that the planning proposal should proceed subject to the conditions in the enclosed Gateway determination. I have also agreed … the inconsistency of the planning proposal … [is] justified in accordance with the terms of the Directions.


“No further approval is required in relation to these Directions. Considering the nature of the planning proposal I have determined that Council may exercise local plan-making authority functions in relation to the planning proposal.”





The letter says the proposed local environmental plan (LEP) “is to be finalised on or before 6 November 2024. Council should aim to commence the exhibition of the planning proposal as soon as possible. The NSW Government has committed to reduce the time taken to complete LEPs. To meet these commitments, the Minister may appoint an alternate planning proposal authority if Council does not meet the timeframes outlined in the Gateway determination”.


According to the Gateway Determination, in 2020, a previous planning proposal was lodged to “rezone the subject site to B1 Neighbourhood Centre and reconfigure the distribution of the retail spaces to facilitate a mid-sized supermarket of between 1,600m2 and 1,700m2 GFA”.



OCC papers.


“This planning proposal drew opposition from several existing retailers in the area who were concerned about the scale of the development and the potential impacts on the trading performance of the area,” it stated. 




“The proposal was rejected by Council due to concerns that the rezoning could increase retail activity and floor area beyond what is already intended for the site (expanding from the approved area of 1,791m2 to 2,910m2).”


OCC papers.

An Economic Impact Assessment prepared for James Richmark Pty Ltd described the proposed development as a “small supermarket”.


It said that the gross leasable area for other shops in Orange included Big W (7,015 sqm), Coles (3,715 sqm), Woolworths CBD (3,100 sqm) and Woolworths North Orange (3,500 sqm), Harris Farm (1,115 sqm) and Foodworks (640 sqm).

It predicted the supermarket would have an annual turnover of $5.1 million in the 2025/26 financial year (including GST), growing to around $9 million in 2041.


WHAT IS A GATEWAY DETERMINATION?


From the NSW government


“The gateway determination is a checkpoint for a planning proposal to review strategic and site-specific merit and whether the planning proposal should proceed to public exhibition. 

The department will undertake a review of the proposal. This includes:


  • a high-level check of the planning proposal to ensure the package meets the minimum administrative requirements


  • a strategic merit assessment of the proposal against relevant district plan, regional plan, LSPS, section 9.1 Directions, SEPPs and any department endorsed local strategy


  • an assessment of potential environmental, social, economic, and infrastructure impacts of the proposal


  • obtain high level advice and guidance from the department’s legal team or PCO (where required)


  • seek agency advice and/or comments, where required or where an authority or government agency has not consulted at the pre-lodgement stage


  • review proposed community consultation and expected timeframe for the proposal.




We prepare an assessment report and provide a recommendation to the Minister for Planning (or delegate) on whether the planning proposal should proceed.

 

The minister (or delegate) will issue the gateway determination, which will specify:


  • whether the planning proposal is supported to proceed or not


  • any necessary technical studies or supporting studies

 

  • whether the planning proposal needs to be amended (and possibly resubmitted to the department) prior to exhibition


  • required community consultation


  • required consultation with state or federal authorities


  • whether a local contributions plan must be exhibited at the same time as the planning proposal 


  • whether a public hearing is needed


  • the timeframes within which the various stages of the process for making of the proposed LEP are to be completed


  • whether the council is to be authorised to make the proposed instrument as the local plan-making authority


  • any other conditions.


The purpose of the gateway determination is to ensure early in the process that there is sufficient strategic and site-specific merit for the planning proposal to progress. A gateway determination that specifies the proposal should proceed, does not guarantee that the proposed LEP will be made.


The gateway determination may identify the requirement for any additional information, revisions, studies, or targeted consultation to occur with authorities or government agencies and other stakeholders prior to public exhibition.

It may also identify that a revision needs to be considered by the department prior to exhibition.


The planning proposal authority is responsible for ensuring the required matters are completed prior to the public exhibition of the planning proposal.”


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