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Crunch time for Waterloo supermarket

An impending Council vote on an ALDI supermarket in Waterloo has attracted the attention of Heffron state MP Kristina Keneally, who last week attended a committee meeting to push the case for the supermarket’s approval reports Shant Fabricatorian in City News on 29 October 2009.

“Residents of Redfern and Waterloo are in great need of affordable groceries within walking distance of their place of residence,” she said. “It is obscene that in an area with such a high proportion of residents on low incomes that the closest grocery store is a high-priced boutique that charges more for a basket of staple food items than what a pensioner spends on rent each week in public housing.”

“I can’t imagine on what basis any councillor would seek to deny the residents of Waterloo and Redfern access to affordable food choices.”

Between them, Redfern and Waterloo have 4,500 social housing premises and one of the lowest rates of car ownership in NSW.

Labor councillor Meredith Burgmann and Greens councillors Chris Harris and Irene Doutney have already declared their support for the proposal. “If [Cr Moore] had issues with the level of traffic in the area, quite frankly a report should have already been done and presented at the committee meeting,” Cr Burgmann said.

According to Ross Smith, spokesperson for public housing residents’ group The Peoples Precinct, there was much support from residents in the area for the development. “The Council officers’ recommendations were for it,” he said. “All the way through they were saying, ‘This is good, it achieves much better than the minimum compliance standards’. From a social perspective it would be very beneficial.

“When you go back through it, the planning panel back in June-July requested a traffic study. The proponent had their traffic consultant at the committee meeting [on Monday] and he addressed the councillors. There was no challenging of his plan – if Clover really had some genuine concerns about traffic management, why didn’t she ask?”

Mr Smith said the nearby Coles in Surry Hills had been milking public housing tenants for years and the ALDI development would provide benefits to competition. A petition in favour of the supermarket with 640 signatures was previously presented to the Lord Mayor.

A spokesperson for the Lord Mayor said it was not unusual for councillors to ask for extra information at committee meetings, and that a decision on whether to approve the supermarket would be made at Council meeting on November 2.