A Coles supermarket development at Maiden Gully has been given the green light following a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing.
The application was sent to the tribunal following a failure of the City of Greater Bendigo council to make a timely decision on the proposal, although a majority of councillors voted to oppose the supermarket at April's council meeting.
Tribunal senior member Laurie Hewet was tasked with deciding if the proposal was suitable, taking into consideration council town planning and objections from the council and nearby IGA Supermarket.
The site at 715-723 Calder Highway includes the Maiden Gully Post Office and the former site of the Avondel Caravan Park, which was sold earlier this year.
The development would result in a Coles, a Liquorland and 10 retail premises.
Concerns raised included whether the proposal would "undermine the Maiden Gully neighbourhood activity centre", would "deliver a net community benefit", and whether the provision of car parking and proposed management of its traffic impacts were acceptable.
According to council planning, the site had been identified as a "large activity centre" with a residential growth area to the north and east.
"An indicative yield of 4152 dwellings and a potential population of 10,800 people is forecast for the growth area," Mr Hewet's report said.
The IGA Supermarket argued the demand for the a second supermarket in Maiden Gully wasn't there, echoing Greater Bendigo councillor Rod Fyffe's comments in April when he said population growth forecasts were unreliable.
In Mr Hewet's findings, he said "the Maiden Gully and Marong primary trade area is severely underserved by supermarkets, leading to unnecessary cost and inconvenience for local residents as they seek to meet basic shopping needs".
He said there would be capacity for IGA to "remain trading with the Coles development proceeding".
"IGA will be impacted, but given the strong trading level of the store currently, with growth in the coming years, even a sizeable proportionate impact would still leave the store trading at a solid and sustainable level," he said.
Mr Hewet said he found the removal of 0.324 hectares of native vegetation comprising eight remnant trees, and a reduction to car parking spaces were "acceptable".
Local community group Maiden Gully Progress Association's president James Proctor said residents were "very pleased" with the development's approval.
"This is a development we welcome for Maiden Gully," he said.
"There's a lack of infrastructure in Maiden Gully; if you look at the west side of Bendigo, there's really not a lot in terms of retail, a good size supermarket, or other retails such as takeaway stores."
Mr Proctor said it was possible for Maiden Gully residents to support both a Coles and a Maiden Gully, pointing to Epsom which had an Aldi and Woolworths in the same shopping centre.
"Originally [Maiden Gully] was just a little village outside Bendigo and it started off with a general store," he said.
"It grew larger, IGA came along, which for the growing area suited it, and once IGA came, of course the general store was no longer needed.
"It's continued to grow to such a level where that IGA is no longer sufficient to provide for the needs of an area of 5000 people and growing."
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