Mosman gears up for fight
An early concept plan of Woolworth’s proposed Metro store on Military Road.
Mosman Council has committed to fighting legal action by retail giant Woolworths to push through its controversial $5.3 million development proposal for Military Road.
In December, Woolworths revealed it would be challenging the decision by Council’s local planning panel to reject its development application for a Metro supermarket in the Land and Environment Court.
The planning panel refused the application, labelling it ‘unsuitable’, in November, following an extensive campaign against the development by residents.
Now, in a sign it is up for the fight, Council has committed to quarantining sufficient funds in its legal budget to ensure a ‘thorough and robust defense’ against the proposal in court.
Speaking at the February meeting, Mayor Carolyn Corrigan said it was ‘essential’ Council designates adequate funding to uphold the planning panel’s decision.
“Council and Mosman residents have long expressed concerns about the impacts of such an unsuitable development on our village atmosphere, nearby small businesses and the associated traffic congestion,” Mayor Corrigan told North Shore Living.
“Dedicating sufficient funds to mount this defence is obviously essential.”
She pointed to an additional $200,000 that had been earmarked by Council’s financial officers for legal matters in the December 2020 financial statements, however admitted the cost of the defense ‘could not be predicted at this point in time’.
Fellow Councillor Roy Bendall told the meeting he believes the fight will likely ‘cost far more than that’, considering the cost of previous legal battles Council has faced with retail corporations.
Between 2014 and 2016, Mosman Council spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees alone in a bid to stop Woolworths-owned Dan Murphy’s opening a store on Military Road.
The application was eventually given the green light in court.
In mid-February, councillors met behind closed doors with Council’s legal team to discuss their defense’s prospects and likely legal expenses.
In a statement, Woolworth’s head of property Andrew Loveday said the court challenge is, “an important opportunity for a full review of our proposed small-scale, Metro store, which we believe will make a positive contribution to the area.”