Mullumbimby Action Group -> articles -> sartor17july

The 'Shit' about What is Wrong with the Woolworth's DA

The 'Shit'  about What is Wrong with the Woolworth's DA

Why Mullumbimby Community Action Network, MCAN, rejects and objects to the Woolworths application to modify the Woolworths application to modify their original Development application for their Supermarket and bottle shop.

The main reasons are sewage, traffic, flooding, arts and culture, and the heritage value of the town.


The DA was approved with Conditions of Consent which stipulated the supermarket will be built in two stages, Stage 1 with on-site sewage, and Stage 2 “…relies on reticulated sewerage disposal being made available to the site” (MOD 22-3-2007 In view of the applicants’ unrealistic and potentially dangerous waste water management proposals, outlined below, we object strongly to any change to the Consent Conditions regarding the 2 Stages of Development.


The Applicants’ new proposal to have the on-site sewage disposal under the tarmac of the carpark and the access road means that the irrigation system no longer relates to the surface plants. It becomes a groundwater re-charge system. This is unacceptable to any standard or guideline, including the NSW Government’s own environment and Health Protection Guidelines.

The sewage system approved with the DA in 2006 and presumably supported by your Department required 1,570 square metres of irrigation, exposed to the atmosphere. We believe that area is too small, due to the loading being greater than predicted and due to soil permeability being far less than claimed then, or now. Until an adequate on-site system is in place, with adequate area and exposure, this proposal cannot be supported or approved.

In a nutshell, it stinks. In an anaerobic environment as proposed, noxious gasses such as hydrogen sulphide and methane will accumulate and give the festering smell of rotten eggs similar to a waste dump. Furthermore these gasses have 21 times more impact on global warming than CO2.

Drainage is a problem in Mullumbimby, especially on the floodplain where the Woolworth’s proposed site is. The site grows sedge and other wetland grasses which tolerate 100% saturation, attesting to the poor drainage of those soils. The adjoining Station Street ditch was still full of stagnant water three days after last week’s rain. With the proposed irrigation method having no transpiration/evaporation beds, where will Woolworth’s treated sewage go when it cannot seep into the subsoil because the ground is already sodden with rain? The soil will already be over-loaded because the area is too small and the wet-weather storage capacity is for only a few days.

Members of MCAN living close to the town centre have gardens which become waterlogged in heavy rain and their houses become damp. Susan Skyvington (of Dalley Street, who is writing to you separately) has raw sewage bubbling up into her garden at times of heavy rain, and Byron Shire Council have been to her place to clean up the mess (Ms Skyvington has already sent you details of this).

Byron Shire Council’s On-Site Management Systems (Byron OSMS Design Model) flowchart calculations submitted by BRW Enterprises (Qld) Pty Ltd for Woolworths proposal (Attachment D) were based on A SINGLE BEDROOMED RESIDENCE! The calculations are therefore absurdly inadequate and unprofessional.


The Traffic Report prepared by Masson Wilson Twiney is riddled with inaccuracies; another unprofessional job. A glaring obfuscation is in the Introduction where they state the DA was approved and omit to mention that this approval was conditional – they omit the Consent Conditions. This could confuse people.

Furthermore Masson Wilson Twiney insult us with misspelling the name of Byron Shire Council as BRYON Shire Council (p2). They are inaccurate by stating that there is a Telstra Depot to the south (p2) [the building referred to was formerly a Telstra Depot] and that “Argyle Street connects to the Pacific Highway” (p3); in fact Argyle Street connects indirectly to the Pacific Highway at a distance of some 8 kilometres.

Item 3.2 Amended Proposal states that “Wow proposes to develop the site into a supermarket with a bottle shop, consistent with the approved development”. Again, this proposal is not consistent with the approved development because the approved development was in two stages and they are again ignoring the consent conditions, as if they didn’t exist!

The street in which this development is seeking to expand its approval is tiny. The urban network that feeds the site is already over-stressed with traffic. It reflects a settlement pattern 50 years old. The rural roads that bring trucks from the Pacific Highway to Mullumbimby are equally dangerous single-carriageway death traps. Please do not increase traffic on these, as sought by this application.

The S96 seeks to increase truck delivery scope to include Sundays. MCAN strongly opposes any such increase. Truck times should be limited to minimize disturbance in this currently quiet residential neighbourhood. The limitations should include trucks not arriving in the wee small hours of the morning and then waiting (possibly with air-conditioners running) till the DA-approved delivery times commence. Trading hours and bottle-shop times should also remain as limited as possible.


The Preliminary Flood Assessment carried out by Greg Alderson and Associates dated April 2006 for applicants Mallam and Edwards Properties and Musgrave Family Trust in regard to DA 32-04-2006 states (p2) “The carpark level is unchanged from the existing ground level and therefore has no impact on flooding”.

On the other hand, the S96 (MOD2) amendments seek to elevate the car park: see p5 of Masson Wilson Twiney’s (MWT) document dated 20 June 2008 which states “As the supermarket is proposed to be elevated by approximately 1.2m, the car park is also proposed to be elevated by the same height so that the car park would relate properly to the supermarket floor level.” This may well be contrary to Clause 24 of Byron Shire Council’s Local Environment Plan (LEP) which states that the proposed development is required to not restrict the flow characteristics of floodwaters and not increase the level of flooding on other land in the vicinity. Elevation of the car park by 1.2m will increase the speed of the water flowing down the 1 in 40 gradient to street level and therefore increase flooding on other land in the vicinity. MWT document (20 June 2008) states “…the entire southern half of the car park would have a gradient of approximately 1 in 40 (or approximately two and a half per cent) from the [Station] street level.

The proposed structure must also comply with Part K of Byron Shire Council’s Development Control Plan (2002) which lists a series of Objectives with respect to flooding, as follows:

  • “to reduce the impact of flooding and flood liability on individual owners and occupiers

  • To reduce private and public losses resulting from flooding

  • To ensure that all development and building proposal on flood liable lands are considered by Council, taking into account social, economic and ecological issues, as well as flooding considerations to ensure floodplains are not unnecessarily sterilized and development not unreasonably restricted by virtue of the land being liable to flooding, and

  • To provide guidelines for determination of the merits of development on flood liable lands as required by section 79C(a)(iv) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979”.

Council then further nominates Responsibilities for the Floodplain Management. “Individual members of the Community, private business and developers should exercise some responsibility for exposing themselves and others to flood risks”.

NSW Government Floodplain Management Manual – the management of flood liable land (2001) section 2.6.1. has similar statements with the addition of the word “balance”.

Also, Byron Shire Council in it’s DCP 2002 has a table for assessing proposed developments which allows for “New Commercial Developments” to be “Considered on is merits.”

woolworths site flood may1987Please find enclosed photograph of the proposed Woolworths’ site inundated by floodwater in the 1987 Mother’s Day Flood which reached a level of 4.24mAHD.

The original DA proposed the minimum floor level of the new building to be 4.52mAHD, 200mm above the flood level. MWT (20.6.08) (p5) state “The supermarket area is proposed to be elevated by approximately 1.2m to address flooding issue on the site”. Is this elevation to be 1.2m above the minimum floor level of 4.52mAHD? MWT are not being precise.

JBA Urban Planning Consultants Pty Ltd state on p5 of their letter (23.6.08) to Mr Sam Haddad on behalf of Woolworths “The nature of the suspended slab does not impede flood waters as outlined in the Engineering Report prepared by Farr Engineers submitted with the April 2008 Section 96 documents”. However, as mentioned above, the Engineering Report appendix C Flood Report by Greg Alderson and Associates assesses the proposal for a ground level car park and the current proposal is for an elevated carpark with a 1 in 40 gradient down to street level. The nature of this sloping slab may indeed increase the impact of flooding and flood liability on individual owners and occupiers and increase private and public losses and not comply with Part K of Byron Shire Council’s Development Control Plan (2002).

The elevated carpark proposed by the S96 (MOD2) is NOT substantially the same as the original DA for a groundlevel carpark and therefore requires a new DA with a new Flood Assessment.


The Traffic Engineering Report which was prepared by TTM Consulting in 2006 for the Musgrave Family Trust is invalid because it was commissioned and paid for by the proponent of the original DA. Mr Ray Musgrave, we wish to point out, is Co-ordinator for Major Subdivisions on Tweed Shire Council, which this area “has turned from a sleepy backwater to one of the fastest growing urban areas in the country” ( Historically, where Woolworths go, subdivisions follow. Mullumbimby does not have the environmental capacity to support Woolworths or more major subdivisions, and the people of this town enjoy its unique heritage character and do not want the town to become an extension of the aforesaid Tweed Coast urban sprawl.


In Woolworths’ glossy booklet, presumptuously named “Woolworths in Mullumbimby” (a complaint about this inaccurate statement is currently being investigated by the Department of Fair Trading) they state that the catchment area for their proposed supermarket has a population of 17,100. Mullumbimby is a small town with small streets and cannot support the influx of shoppers catering to that many people. The traffic impacts alone would ruin the quality of life for the people who live here.

Despite Woolworths supposed catchment of 17100 people, the TTM Traffic Engineers Report state that the estimated increase in traffic volumes in Station Street by 1264 vpd and Tincogan Street by 356 vpd – totalling 1620 vehicles per day (p17). If each of these vehicle trips are counted going to the supermarket, and then coming back from the supermarket, then the actual number of vehicles will be half of 1620 being 810. 810 or even 1620 seem to be an underestimation of vehicle trips per day for a catchment of 17100 potential consumers.


Byron Shire Council is apparently making its own independent traffic study and they have had their traffic counters operating in Argyle, Station and Prince Streets recently. We understand an independent report is being prepared by Council and look forward to seeing it in due course.


Preservation of the arts and culture of our region is an extremely important part of the wider eclectic Mullumbimby community. Currently there are plans for sculptures/installations in our main street which will be sponsored by local businesses and artists. If Woolworths come to our town the local businesses will suffer and will not be able to support our local artists. Furthermore the town will be homogenized or gentrified as other towns have been when large multinational supermarkets impact and annihilate the shopping strips and erode the independent businesses.

Mr Sartor as Mayor of Sydney supported the arts and culture of that city and we really hope that he won’t jeopardize this aspect of our community by approving the S96 amendments.


Mullumbimby is a unique town with a heritage character. The roundabout at the junction of Burringbar and Stations Streets, with its mature native trees and informality is worth keeping as gatekeeper to the organic vegetated atmosphere of Mullumbimby. Woolworths proposed engineered traffic code designed concrete, white painted, signposted and lightpoled characterless roundabout will not be in keeping with the heritage character of our town. Even worse, token “landscaping” bushes and coloured concrete pavers would further insult our beautiful town. Again this would impact on the culture of Mullumbimby.


JBA Urban Planning Consultants Pty Ltd’s letter (on behalf of Woolworths) to Mr Sam Haddad, the Director General of NSW Planning Department dated 23.6.08 (pp5 & 6) mentions the Clause 45 of Byron Local Environment Plan 1988 (BLEP 1988) which provides that:

“The Council shall not consent to the carrying out of development on any land to which this plan applies unless it is satisfied that prior adequate arrangements have been made for the provision of sewerage, drainage and water services to the land.”

JBA refer to the Codlea Pty Ltd v Byron Shire Council (1988) NSWLEC 305 case where development consent was not granted because it was contrary to Clause 45 of the BLEP 1988. They go on to state that the Fabcot Pty Ltd (Woolworths) proposal differs from the Codlea case and “would be open to the Minster as the consent authority in determining the S96 application …” Is Minister Sartor the legal consent authority in this case?

Furthemore JBA write (p6) “The onsite treatment proposed (generally consistent with the method in the original consent)….” This is not true! The onsite treatment is not consistent at all with the on-site method in the original consent – see sewage section above.

JBA continue with:

“… does not require connection into the sewerage system operated and maintained by the Council in its capacity as a water servicing authority nor does it require an approval of the servicing authority. Adequacy of the onsite treatment is a technical determination to be made by the consent authority, in this case the Minister for Planning. If the onsite disposal system was found to be adequate on technical merit then Clause 45 could be satisfied. The Minister would not be seeking to stand in the shoes of Council as the water supply authority in reaching this decision but as the consent authority.”

Mullumbimby Community Action Network wishes to respectfully point out to the Minister that the onsite treatment proposed by Woolworths is not adequate on technical merit. On the contrary! Furthermore, it appears that if the Minister approves the S96 he will certainly be “seeking to stand in the shoes of council as the water supply authority”.

Yours truly

Deborah Lilly

Mullumbimby Community Action Network


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