Master blaster: Couple shapes up to hardware giant in David versus Goliath duel

THEY’VE called it the David versus Goliath battle but retired couple Barbara and Jack York have stepped up a gear in their fight against a proposed Masters hardware shopping complex to be built just off Scott Rd in Tamworth.

Over the weekend they had more than 3000 circulars letterbox dropped right around the city to highlight the development issue and Jack’s tractor is now decked out in battledress and parked on his paddock for passing traffic to notice.

The Yorks have lived on Scott Rd for 25 years but far from being nimbys, they’re absolutely rock solid in their conviction that Masters cannot be allowed to build in this city backyard paddock.

Right across the road from their home, Locks Ln is the border for a rezoning application that would pave the way for the proposed $25 million hardware chain centre to build near the edge of floodplain land and across three separate property parcels acquired by Masters. 

The land would border Scott Rd, Locks Ln and the residential Hilton St at the top of the hill, and the original plans provide for a store of about 13,000 square metres.

Masters first announced its plans for the neighbourhood in April and flagged moves to get rezoning approval to allow that development. 

The Yorks and other neighbours swung into high gear to mount opposition.

They’re alarmed at the prospect of a development being able to double in size and scale from what it would have  been under the current local environment plan. 

Another huge issue for them is that the Masters plan will lead to a real traffic jam – it will create a motoring nightmare on a cross-city route that is notoriously busy at peak periods and for special events. 

They dispute figures from a traffic study and contend there would be thousands of extra cars on that stretch of road each week.

The Masters rezoning application of both rural and residential land is on display for public comment at Tamworth Regional Council but submissions close on Friday.

The weekend lobby effort was a last-ditch attempt to tell more people what is going on, and get them to support the protest.

Mrs York canvassed emergency services and weekend visitors to the billabong and says she’s amazed at the lack of awareness of Tamworth people of the proposed plans.

The “scariest part” of the issue is what the rezoning approval would lead to, she said.

“Once it is rezoned, they can build up the floodplain and redesign the natural watercourse. This enables their development to be almost three times the size of what the current zoning allows,” Mrs York said. 

“One can only imagine what impact a complex of this size will have on the quality of life of surrounding residents. It will dramatically alter the current landscape with the erection of a large concrete building, two smaller stores and a car park for approximately 400 cars. 

“The intersection with Locks Ln will have 300 extra vehicle movements during peak trading on a Thursday afternoon and 660 extra movements during the Saturday peak.

“Masters are sticking to their view that there will be minimal impact on traffic, but apart from peak trading, we have no idea what traffic increases to expect. 

“Based on the two predicted peak trading periods, we will have more than 600 cars go past our door in just two hours per week. 

“What sort of increase can we expect for the remaining 75 hours per week that they’ll be trading?”

Mrs York said they acknowledged how important investment by retailers is and they would welcome Masters to town.

“But what we are saying, loudly and clearly, is that this is not a good location.”

Along with traffic and safety issues for surrounding residents, they also list as key concerns any significant alteration to the floodplain and the redesign of the natural watercourse. 

“Pedestrians, cyclists and families who use Scott Rd and Locks Ln will all be affected,” she said. 

“And the landscape will be forever and irrevocably changed from the scenic route we currently enjoy.”

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