Woolies Highgate approved by JDAP

• Artists impression of the new Woolworths on the corner of Bulwer and Stirling Streets.

CONSTRUCTION of the new Highgate Woolworths is due to start early 2020.

The plan for the $10 million, three-storey supermarket, cafe, liquor store and early learning centre at the corner of Bulwer and Stirling Street was approved by the joint Vincent council/state government Development Assessment Panel on October 11.

Vincent council staff initially recommended the DAP refuse it over concerns it could draw trade away from existing town centres like Beaufort Street, and because it might “have an adverse impact on the residential amenity” of the area.

But after a second look at trade impact projections, a slightly rejigged plan (it’s a little shorter and an imposing 12.2m wall on the north-east boundary is now 2.8m) won unanimous approval.

Woolworths spokesperson Alicia Jones says they took inspiration from the site’s former use as the Premier Theatre to design a fresh, modern building.

One per cent of the cost ($100,000) will be put aside for artwork in line with Vincent council policy and Ms Jones says they’ll be using locals.

Once open, the centre will provide around 120 jobs.

by DAVID BELL

Business impact debated

WHILE competition between individual businesses isn’t usually a planning consideration, when a supermarket is proposed near an existing “activity centre”, state government policy calls for an assessment to see if it’ll be detrimental.

Woolies hired economics research outfit Location IQ to pen its assessment, which says the impact on five nearby town centres would be “within normal competitive range of 10 per cent or less”.

LIQ’s figures project that between 2018 and 2021, Woolies’ centre will lead to a loss of sales of:

• $2.8m for Beaufort Street businesses (2.5 per cent off their trade);

• $1.5m for Tyne Square (7.5 per cent);

• $4.1m for North Perth Plaza (8.5 per cent);

• $1m for 2nd Ave Plaza (7.5 per cent); and,

• $1m  for East Perth (5 per cent).

Vincent planning staff were skeptical and commissioned their own review, which found that while the overall impact on Beaufort Street might be low, the lion’s share of the $2.8m trade loss would be borne by just six food and liquor shops.

“This would likely mean that trading impacts would be significant, and potentially above the 10 per cent accepted level,” that review found.

Woolies’ hired gun shot back and said that under state government rules, they only had to consider the overall impact on the centre, not the impact on individual businesses or retail types.

Woolies says apart from those six, the remaining 97.2 per cent of Beaufort shops will get flow-on benefits from its presence.

On the positive side for local businesses LIQ has high hopes of an economic recovery, projecting Beaufort Street’s turnover increasing by 39 per cent between 2018 and 2021, and  Leederville’s by 43 per cent.

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