The Mirror News

Aldi expected to boost business in Leongatha

ALL the good points about having an Aldi supermarket in the centre of Leongatha were presented to a special meeting of South Gippsland Shire Council last Wednesday.

Aldi Stores has submitted an application for a planning permit for a store on the corner of Bruce and Church Streets. Council has designated it a Project of Local Significance and is keen to fast-track the planning process.

At last Wednesday’s briefing, Jarrah Lukjanov, Principal Planner with Select Planners, the consultancy working on the venture for Aldi Stores, outlined the key benefits of an Aldi store in Leongatha.

He said it was a $5.3 million investment which would result in 20 full-time equivalent jobs and many further jobs through the supply chain. There would also be 22 full-time equivalent jobs for the one year it is expected to take to build the store.

Mr Lukjanov said that an Aldi supermarket will improve the retail environment in Leongatha and the wider district, attracting shoppers to Leongatha and giving the town centre a boost. There will be flow-on benefits for other traders, as people linger in Leongatha to have a coffee or visit other smaller shops. Shoppers should find that there is no need to go elsewhere – such as Wonthaggi or the Valley – and instead spend their money in Leongatha. In a further bonus for shoppers, the competition from Aldi is likely to encourage neighbouring supermarkets to lower their prices.

“It’s a positive story,” said Mr Lukjanov, adding that it was rare indeed to see a site such as the block proposed for Aldi in Leongatha which “ticks all the boxes”, being a large site in the Business One zone, directly opposite an IGA supermarket and in the town centre, offering synergy with existing shops.

Another plus is the ‘island’ site, consisting of two road frontages and two lanes (Gawdion Lane and Roberts Lane). This separates the store nicely from its nearest neighbours.

The store itself will cover more than 1500 square metres, but the block is large enough to include 86 on-site car spaces (eight more than the legal requirements) and two disabled parking spaces. The mayor, Cr Kieran Kennedy, asked if there could perhaps be more disabled parking spaces given the high proportion of elderly people in the shire. He was told that consideration will be given to marking out some ‘seniors only’ places near the store for easy access.

Mr Lukjanov showed architect’s plans of the proposed store and artists’ views of what it will look like – with and without the extensive landscaping that is planned for the site – and said it should be “quite pleasing” in terms of urban design. The acoustic qualities of the sandwich panels with which the building will be constructed will keep noise levels down to a minimum, he said, and the glazing at the front of the store will allow people to see in. Even around the loading bay in Church Street the landscaping will create a “bushy dense screen” and will be a “green wall” when mature.

Church Street resident Dorothy Giles was at the briefing and expressed some concern about the potential for trucks at the loading bay disturbing her, particularly at night.

“I wouldn’t want trucks unloading all hours of the night,” she said.

She was told that Aldi has good control over its delivery schedule because it owns its entire fleet of trucks. All trucks must be fitted with reversing beepers, but they also have cameras so the drivers can switch off the beeping sound at night. The unloading is carried out internally, so noise should be minimised, and there are only likely to be a couple of deliveries every few days – much fewer than at a larger supermarket. With a turnaround time of around 45 minutes to arrive and unload, hopefully any disturbance will be kept to a minimum. Conditions on the planning permit relating to noise and the possibility of applying to the EPA if necessary are further safeguards in place for the community.

Aldi will tender for the build, but it does have a list of its own regular builders whom it tends to call upon. There will be some opportunity, however, for local subcontractors to find employment in the build.

Community members can find out more about the Aldi supermarket at an open community information session in Council Chambers this Thursday, May 9, between 5.30pm and 8pm, where Mr Lukjanov and Bernadette Gooda, Property Director with Aldi Stores, will be on hand to answer questions and display the plans.

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