Aldi a hit
WHEN The Star exclusively broke the story ALDI will open in Leongatha last Tuesday morning on its website and Facebook, the news went viral.
The story created so much interest that by Monday afternoon, The Star’s Facebook page had received almost 10,000 hits.
Leongatha has been given a desperately needed economic shot in the arm thanks to German supermarket giant Aldi.
A planning application was lodged with South Gippsland Shire Council last Tuesday.
Council planning director Phil Stone said, “It will be a great boost to the town.”
He’s hoping the planning application will go through very quickly.
“Aldi told me the fastest they’ve had a permit done was in 31 days. I’ve set a challenge for the (planning) team – we’d better get it done in 30.5 days.
“I’d like to think we can be up there signing as soon as possible.”
If that happens, the $6.5 million structure will be open by the end of the year. It will provide 20 jobs.
The application was lodged jointly by Aldi, Anthony and Giuseppina Vitetta and Avitco Pty Ltd of Bair Street, Leongatha.
The site is bounded by Bruce and Church streets, Roberts and Gaudion lanes. Houses on the land will be demolished.
The building will, with a gross floor area of 1559 square metres, back onto Gaudion Lane with traffic access from Church and Bruce streets. Delivery trucks will enter and leave via Church Street which will lose six parking spaces.
Leongatha Chamber of Commerce president Darryl McGannon is enthusiastic about the Aldi announcement.
“I think it’s fantastic; it’s great for the town, a huge boost. I’m hoping it will set off a new phase of economic development.”
That sentiment is echoed in the Aldi application which says the supermarket will “enhance the commercial area and encourage further investment”.
It will also “promote competition and create local employment” as well as reduce the need for “local residents to travel outside the area”.
“The development of an Aldi store will make a valuable contribution.”
A proposed tower on the building will “provide a sense of address”.
Aldi will brief councillors at 10am on Wednesday, May 1. A public information session is set down for Thursday, May 9 between 5 and 8.30pm at the council chambers.
Asked a number of questions, an Aldi spokesperson provided the following: “Aldi Australia is pleased to confirm that a development application has been submitted to the South Gippsland Shire Council to establish an Aldi Store in Leongatha, offering local residents the opportunity to discover smarter shopping.
“When looking to open a new store in an area, Aldi works closely with local councils, community and residential groups and other businesses.”
Discussions with the council have been going on for two years.
Aside from any objections, there could be another hiccup – a tree.
One of the properties making up the wider site is the former home of publican Claude Bair and his wife Eve. They had a beautiful garden, including an Illawarra Flame Tree.
One of only two such specimens in the area, it is named in Dr Mary Ellis’s Significant Trees of South Gippsland, produced in 2002 under the auspices of South Gippsland Shire Council and the South Gippsland Conservation Society.
Dr Ellis told The Star on Thursday the tree is rare for the area.
“It would be a great pity for that tree to go.”
Leongatha and District Historical Society president Lyn Skillern said the same thing.
“We have a significant tree at Beaurepaires and no one considers chopping it down.”
Public interest in the news Aldi will open a store in Leongatha was overwhelming.
Most people welcomed the news, saying Aldi would help retain business in Leongatha and create jobs in the town. Others said Aldi supports Australian farmers.
Some people commented Aldi should open in Korumburra instead, particularly on the former saleyards site, and that South Gippsland Shire Council only thinks of Leongatha. Others, however, praised council for work with Aldi to secure a store in town.
Samantha Jefferis said she now lives in Mooroopna, just outside of Shepparton, and works at Woolworths, with an Aldi next door.
“It caters quite well for those that shop at both, and surprisingly, they bring each other business,” she wrote.
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