Intervention could cause a Rau

The unrest likely to be felt by many in the Strathalbyn community over another push to have a retail complex built at the entrance to the town will be significant.
This issue galvanised the town like no other when it was first proposed in June last year.
Locals gathered in their hundreds at community meetings and told the council in no uncertain terms it feared a new commercial hub, if allowed to be built separate from the existing retail centre, would divide the town and lead to problems experienced by other regional centres which have allowed similar developments.
The council was clearly listening.
It believes there is plenty of available retail space already existing in the town centre to cope with Strathalbyn’s expected population growth and, after extensive community consultation, developed a 10-year plan for the town in which it committed to restricting retail businesses to the current zone.
The community was happy.
The developers were clearly not.
Their approach to Planning Minister John Rau, if successful, would remove the council from the rezoning and planning process and make a mockery of not only the council’s vision for the town’s future but also the input of the community.
The whole issue of developers applying to the Minister for special treatment when they don’t get their way is galling to many and difficult to comprehend.
It would perhaps be understandable for a Minister to override a community and council with regard to a major development such as the approval of an airport, a power station or a shipping terminal … something significant in the national or State interest.
But this is a shopping centre!
They exist in their thousands across the country.
One wonders how carefully Mr Rau will be able to comprehend the nuances of this issue unless he attends the public meeting planned for next Wednesday.
The meeting in the Strathalbyn Town Hall must be an improvement on the last and organisers must ensure that Mr Rau and the developers are shown respect and courtesy and be allowed to put their case.

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