By Hamish Wallace
More traffic and more crime. They are the concerns of Rosebery residents and shop owners about the repeated attempts by Woolworths to open a Dan Murphy’s in the area.
Two previous applications have been rejected by Sydney City Council, which said that the store could contribute to social problems and traffic congestion. The liquor chain is now by-passing the council by ‘piggy-backing’ off approval given to residential developer Botany Road Project to accommodate ‘high volume retailers’ at the site. It has also lodged an application with Liquor & Gaming NSW to transfer a dormant liquor licence to the Rosebery address.
Local business owner Peter Lane is all too familiar with Dan Murphy’s efforts to move into the neighbourhood. He runs boutique beer and wine specialist Barny’s, just a few steps from the new development. He says he is one of a number of nearby retailers who will be directly affected by the move. But it is not the competition that worries him but the traffic snarls he believes will come with any successful bid.
“The problem is Botany Road. It’s a shocker. At peak hour, it’s deadlocked – nothing moves at all. You could play ping pong between the cars,” he says.
His concerns were echoed by local resident Gina Mensur, who said that the area was already well-served by liquor shops.
“There’s a liquor store 150 metres away that easily services this community. The traffic down Botany Road and the surrounding streets is already bad enough,” she says, “and we don’t need more.”
Congestion is likely to increase as more people move into the Green Square precinct. Sydney City Council estimates that the precinct will eventually house 35,000 dwellings, in addition to over 2,000 proposed and approved dwellings in Rosebery itself.
The move by Dan Murphy’s also coincides with increased public awareness of alcohol-fuelled violence. In a Senate inquiry submission, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians called for an overhaul of the State’s alcohol laws, including giving councils the power to restrict the number of liquor outlets. NSW police has identified the concentration of bottle shops and pubs as contributing to the high rates of alcohol-related crime in the area which, according to Bureau of Crime statistics, has theft and assault rates four times the state average. Police are concerned that access to cheap and convenient liquor will do nothing to alleviate this.
“The area is synonymous with violence and street crime, and police are of the belief that it’s due to the liquor outlet concentrations. The area has reached saturation point,” said Constable Damien Thorn, from Redfern Local Area Command, in a submission to council.