D'Day for Masters: Council to decide fate of Scott Rd plan

THE rezoning  application that could allow the $25 million Masters home improvement centre to be built off Scott Rd in Tamworth will be decided at a council meeting next week – but the report could be released for public comment before Friday.

Tamworth Regional Council planning staff have been finalising the report since early this year and the recommendations and the full report into Masters’ pitch to have the site land rezoned to allow it to proceed to build the super store are set to be debated at next Tuesday’s meeting.

And some residents who oppose the development in that location have predicted the council could see the biggest turnout in the public gallery for years for that hearing. 

The latest report has been prepared ahead of the 200 submissions received when the rezoning move was put up for public comment.

A council officer said last week the submissions, ranging from simple one page objections to a 28-page dossier, mainly raised concerns about traffic, flooding and the realignment of Barnes Gully near Locks Lane to allow the centre to be built on land fronting the lane.

The report then was looking likely to be a six page document with a summary of the submissions.

Although the council had not released any further detail, and unless any glaring problems are exposed, it is likely the recommendation from staff will be to approve the rezoning.

This would then allow Masters to move onto the next stage of their plan, and lodge the development application to build the 13,500 square metre hardware store and its 379-space car park.

Masters needs to have the rezoning before it can move ahead and that application applies to three parcels of land in Hilton St and Scott Rd, which are now mixed, general residential and small lot primary production. Masters has applied to rezone them to one single mixed use classification. 

Late yesterday one of the prime objectors to the proposed site, Leonie Fitzpatrick, praised any move to have the report released early.

“It would be good if they are releasing it as early as they can before the council meeting because it then allows more people to critically review it,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.

“It is what is needed because we found issues in the original submissions about this proposal that we believe need to be reviewed and need to be studied by anyone who has any interest in it and in Tamworth’s development and growth.

“This is a major development and as many people as possible need to have that opportunity to have a say. We appreciate the council recognising that.

“We still believe there is a place in Tamworth for Masters, we don’t dispute that at all, we just don’t believe that the right place is off Scott Rd where they are looking to build. 

“Scott Rd is too important as an arterial road and the issue of the floodplain is an added consideration – it shouldn’t be tampered with.”

Ms Fitzpatrick said her analysis of the proposal showed that despite what the initial traffic and flood reports stated, there would be a significant impact on the road network and existing flood conditions.

Masters told The Leader when the rezoning was submitted it was committed to the project and hopes to begin construction later this year with a view to it being completed by the end of 2015.

“We have worked closely with council on our rezoning application,” a Masters spokeswoman said.

“Our traffic and flood reports concluded that the development would not have a significant impact on the surrounding road network and existing flood conditions. Scott Rd is part of the national highway network and will be more than able to handle traffic from the development.”

The Masters plan was first unveiled early last year but has attracted some controversy, not just from neighbours but also from other residents who have queried the location of the development, although supporting the move by the Woolworths-owned retailer to set up shop in Tamworth.