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Erskineville split over new supermarket

Plans to convert the disused Hive building at 21-23 Erskineville Road into a new supermarket were approved at a DA meeting on Monday September 24. This has left a number of local Erskineville residents displeased with Lord Mayor Clover Moore and her Sydney City Council. However, just as many local residents applaud the decision reports Robert Morrison in the South Sydney Herald in November 2009.

Since the meeting a group known as the Friends of Erskineville has expressed its disappointment that the “Council ignored many requests for an independent Economic Impact Statement”, and has proclaimed that Sydney City Council’s vision to become the “City of Villages [based on sustainable local business] is dead”.

Former City Councillor, Michael Mobbs, believes that the new Erskineville supermarket threatens local business owners because it will take between 13 and 50 per cent of local business, seeing local profits stagnate and shops shut down. 

“A drop in trade of 13 per cent would stop the organic growth of Erskineville and eventually cause the death of existing small businesses ... In my view, we can only have sustainable cities if we have sustainable villages. And now it looks as though Sydney won’t have a sustainable city because this small Erskineville project is the ultimate test of the city’s capacity to keep and restore villages; judging by the planners’ report this project will bring it to an end and prevent the vision being obtained.”

Many local residents have shown their disappointment about the decision on the Friends of Erskineville website. One resident writes: “This decision has seriously disappointed me, not merely because we will get an unwanted up-market supermarket on our corner which is far more likely to lessen competition than increase it, but because it cynically manipulated the idea of democratic participation and made a mockery of the idea of independent advice on traffic and social economic impact. Clearly for Clover Moore and her team of so-called ‘independents’ the City of Villages was just a slogan.”

Another resident writes: “Dear all, thanks for all of your hard work despite such a lousy outcome – sad to think that the Lord Mayor cares so little about her constituents’ opinions. Clover Moore is not welcome in Erskineville ...”

On its website, Friends of Erskineville has called for residents to boycott the new supermarket, stating that the new development will not only have an impact upon local businesses, but also increase traffic congestion along Gowrie and Angel streets and see the loss of 12-13 residential parking spaces.

However, not all Erskineville residents are in opposition to the development.  

A number of residents feel that the current mini mart and fruit store in Erskineville hold a small monopoly on local produce and are thus over-priced. They believe that the new supermarket will serve to keep these prices in check, and provide cheaper shopping for locals.

On the Alternate Media Group website one Erskineville resident writes: “Finally. It’s nice to see that this thread is receiving a lot of support for the new approvals … I mean, honestly: a block of dairy milk chocolate costs $6.75 at the mini mart. Woolworths has the same block of chocolate on special most days at $3.50. I could make several examples of the over inflated prices, but to be honest, there is no longer a point, because finally sanity has reigned, and we in Erskineville are no longer being held to ransom by a mini mart and a fruit store that not only lack quality, but are so far removed from a ‘village’ experience that it isn’t even funny.”

A number of residents are also pleased they will no longer have to make the long trip up King Street to Foodworks or IGA for cheaper prices. On the same website another local writes: “I am happy that this supermarket is going ahead … I don’t have a car and it is a long walk from my flat up the hill to Foodworks or IGA … After 14 years of hauling up the hill to King Street this will definitely make life easier. [And] walking down Erskineville Road at night can be creepy. I will be very happy to see this long neglected block come alive.”

Construction of the new supermarket is set to begin soon.