Retailers jockeying for a slice of Wagga’s fastest growing market have been rocked by the findings of council’s landmark transport study.
The $240,000 Wagga transport blueprint has suggested any more “residential development north of the river will likely have a significant negative impact on the city” and Wagga would be “worse off” if commercial retail development followed suit.
As it stands, Estella and Boorooma residents have to cross the Gobbagombalin bridge to buy a newspaper or bottle of milk.
Chemist Warehouse managing partner Tony Bassaly said any moves to stifle residential development north of the river would jeopardise plans to open a store in Estella.
Mr Bassaly reaffirmed his unwavering commitment to opening a discount chemist franchise in Wagga, but would “definitely rethink building in Estella” if council curbed development.
Chemist Warehouse has already purchased an Estella pharmacy to satisfy the federal government’s Pharmacy Location Rules, which requires an even distribution of pharmacies.
Consequently, Chemist Warehouse is raring to open a store in the proposed $13 million shopping centre on the corner of Avocet and Rainbow drives.
“We’re committed to Estella, so I hope council doesn’t limit growth north of the river because it would be very disheartening for us,” Mr Bassaly said.
“There’s no doubting the strain on the Gobba Bridge, which is more reason to have a retail precinct north of the river to accommodate the growing demand.
“Somehow, in some form, Chemist Warehouse will be in Wagga.”
Raine and Horne Real Estate Wagga director Grant Harris said demand for family homes necessitated new housing in Estella and Boorooma.
“There’s very little land left on the south side of town, so supply and demand rules dictate the north will expand,” Mr Harris said.
“The local control plans already allow for high density developments in Central, but in my opinion the demand is for larger lots to accommodate families, which at the moment means Estella and Boorooma.
“It's becoming a haven for young families, which will need a supermarket complex and primary school.”
Former Greens councillor Kevin Poynter has in the past championed higher density housing in Central to reduce Wagga’s reliance on cars, which is echoed Integrated Transport Strategy.
“More housing in central would mean people leaving for work would be more inclined to take public transport, walk and ride bikes,” Mr Poynter said.
“Simply making the statement that the state government hasn't indicated willingness to duplicate the Gobba Bridge is pretty sensible, as is the suggestion council should do what it can not to add pressure to the bridge.
“People should submit good reasons to encourage development north of the city rather than shouting about it.”