Nairne shopping

The Mt Barker Council has to make a tough decision about the business future of Nairne.
Instead of having the retail fabric of Nairne mapped out before the housing developments went in, the houses went up and now the council appears to have reached a conclusion that it should allow a large shopping centre to be built on the western outskirts of the town that will starve the eastern main street of customers.
Of course the shopping centre with a 3000sqm supermarket is not a fait accompli.
Armed with the results of a Nairne retail study, the council is about to embark on a public consultation process and everyone will have a say. But at the end of the day the same constraints remain.
The town has a population of just under 4500 people (2011 census) and that number is expected to grow to 6000, with most of the growth in the western area. It is not unreasonable for these new residents to expect to have a supermarket nearby where they can pick up basic grocery items.
As the developers of the proposed western shopping centre point out – Nairne is the only centre of its size in Australia that doesn’t have a shopping centre of some description.
However, Nairne is only seven minutes’ drive from the third largest regional retail market near Adelaide – Mt Barker – where there are four supermarkets, not to mention the independent supermarket even closer at Littlehampton.
The council’s retail report concludes that Nairne really only needs a small supermarket, about 1200sqm, in the short to medium term.
Given the council’s push to reinvigorate the main street, the report also concludes that the main street would be the best place for it. But heritage issues, topography, a creek, a railway line and a lack of available sites make that problematic.
The Chapman’s factory has been ruled out as being commercially “not viable” and the council has wisely backed away from the old Catholic church site up for sale in the main street, which inevitably leads to the developers’ option in the western area.
If it goes ahead, the larger shopping centre will have a negative impact on the main street – even the report acknowledges that.
But it could have benefits, not the least of which is a directive to the developers to fix the congested intersection at the Woodside to Nairne Road and the Old Princes Highway.
The centre might also act to keep Nairne residents shopping in the town, rather than in Adelaide or Mt Barker.
And the council’s push for a linear trail from the shopping centre to the main street could help create some connectivity between the two retail hubs.
The final decision will not be simple.
If it was, it would have been made by now.

1 Comment on "Nairne shopping"

  1. Jim Ralphet | October 4, 2013 at 4:35 pm |

    Absolutely NOT, we do not need another shopping centre when Littlehampton is 4km away, how obsurd.

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