Woolworths’ decision to demolish the vacant Food For Less signals the grocery giant no longer intends to activate an existing council approval to refurbish the building.
The supermarket, on the corner of Short and William streets, closed in April 2012.
A Woolworths spokesperson says it remains committed to bringing a new retail shopping experience to Port Macquarie.
“We understand the community has strong views about the use of the Food for Less site and we look forward to working with the mayor, council and the community on the site's future,” the spokesperson said.
In an earlier statement, Woolworths indicated it would shortly submit a DA to demolish the building.
Acting Mayor Lisa Intemann welcomed the decision by Woolworths.
“Council has had ongoing contact with Woolworths in relation to safety issues, as well as community concerns about the appearance of this gateway site to the CBD,” Cr Intemann said.
Cr Intemann said any DA for a new development would be considered under the existing planning regulations and design principles for the location, which is on the visually and economically important foreshore to Kooloonbung Creek.
Council’s goals are retention of all public car parking spaces, and a high quality development of the car park site and foreshore.
“It is imperative that the foreshore be developed as a gateway to the CBD, and council’s approved planning instruments support that.
“Demolition of the old Food for Less building is an important step forward for the foreshore,” she said.
“However, council’s main interest goes further, critically including the adjoining Plaza public car park which is owned by Crown Lands with council as trustee.”
Based on a motion by Cr Intemann, council recently wrote to local MP Leslie Williams, asking Crown Lands’ latest intentions for the public car park.
“Council’s goals are retention of all public car parking spaces, and a high quality development of the car park site and foreshore.
“Council will be working closely with all parties – including Woolworths and Crown Lands – to ensure the best possible development outcome for this important location,” Cr Intemann said.
“Woolworths’ announcement of their continued commitment to Port Macquarie is also very welcome.”
Residents Action Network president Hilton King says a clear plan for the area is required.
“Once the demolition is completed, we will be, potentially, left with a ugly vacant site with a fence around it,” he said.
“I am sure the community would like to see the site used for something else; car parking perhaps?
“It is imperative that existing car parking is preserved.
“RAN appreciates how sensitive a development on this site would be.”
Mr King said he would like to see details – including artists’ impressions – for the site.
“Let’s see some competing suggestions and then put them up for exhibition, for community discussion,” he added.