Greater Geelong City Council will meet today to consider an application by German supermarket giant Kaufland for a whopping 6,892 square-metre (sqm) store within its planning jurisdiction.
The latest in Kaufland’s expansion plans ahead of its anticipated launch in Australia next year, the store would be placed along Colac Road to the west of Geelong.
But the Geelong council has raised concerns with Kaufland’s application and will consider today whether to support the application in principle, subject to “significant site constraint, layout and access issues” being addressed.
A draft submission put together for council consideration says additional conditions should be added to the prospective deal, which would place the Kaufland location in the midst of residential housing.
There has been considerable scrutiny, and criticism, over Victorian planning decisions related to Kaufland among small business owners over the last 12 months.
Victorian Minister for Planning Richard Wynne last year set up a special committee to oversee decisions about Kaufland’s planning approvals across the state, which is running public consultations on as many as 15 proposed sites.
Kaufland, a German-headquartered company owned by the world’s fourth-largest retailer, Schwarz Group, has been planning its Australian expansion for some time, locking down locations across the country.
The retailer is known for big-box supermarket formats (called hypermarkets) with low prices and wide range. Internationally, it is often called the “Aldi killer”.
Planning committee consultations for three recently proposed locations, including the Geelong one, closed earlier this month, but the Geelong council is preparing a draft submission to the advisory committee.
The draft submission outlines a view Kaufland should not be able to use a residential growth zone for the development, arguing the land would need to be reclassified to a commercial zone.
There is also uncertainty as to whether the development is ‘edge of centre’ or ‘out of centre’ given its proximity to residential land.
“The site does not integrate at all with surrounding land,” the draft submission reads.
The council has, however, proposed accepting the application, in principle, saying competition would be good for the area.
“The City recognises and supports the need for more competition in the retail market in Victoria and Geelong particularly in the supermarket sector,” it said.
Further, the council said it has had “limited time” to consider the technical aspects of the proposed development and, more generally, wants changes made before any approvals are given.
“The City supports ‘in principle’ the proposed development and use of the land at 140-156 Colac Road, Highton for a Kaufland Store, subject to significant site constraint, layout and access issues being addressed,” it said.
The application also sheds light on Kaufland’s intentions in Australia. The store would have an adjoining 319m² bottle shop, and a 470sqm mall area, suggesting the company could rope in other retailers.
“The proposed development adopts a built form that is generally reflective of the ALDI supermarket and convenience restaurants to the east and scale that is moderated by its proximity to the Waurn Ponds Shopping Centre to the south,” Kaufland said in its Geelong application.
Kaufland said the site would support between 80-100 local jobs in the area.