Pharmacy has to take its medicine

ORANGE councillors have upheld a staff recommendation to force the developers of a chemist shop to pay almost $81,500 in parking contributions before they can convert Quinn’s Arcade into one shop.

Chemist Warehouse owner Emad Azzer confirmed his Lords Place business had lodged the development application to relocate to Summer Street.

Council staff said the pharmacy had to pay $81,466.47 in developer contributions to cover a 6.23 space parking shortfall because the new shop will take over the 152 square metre centre walkway and convert it into retail space.

But councillors Chris Gryllis,  Ash Brown and Ron Gander wanted to waive the parking bill, at Tuesday’s meeting, after the applicant threatened to abandon the venture if they were forced to pay.

Their attempts failed to attract enough support from fellow councillors.

READ MORE: Bitter pill for pharmacy applicant 

READ MORE: Proposed pharmacy may have to pay for parking shortfall

Development services director David Waddell said council staff believed this DA was “black and white” and consistent with the parking policy.

“Were you to [waive the contribution] tonight you’d set a precedent which would affect the policy,” he said.

But Cr Gander challenged the statement saying the proposal to convert the numerous shops into one with a walkway would create less demand on parking.

“Once again this is manipulation of the facts,” he said.

“You’re going from reasonably heavy retail to reasonably soft retail with a chemist shop.

“There’s no walls pushed out, nothing.”

Cr Jason Hamling and Cr Neil Jones spearheaded a move to go with the staff recommendation to enforce the parking contribution bill.

“It’s got nothing to do with the change of use of the arcade which for as long as I have been in Orange has been a failure,” Cr Jones said.

The applicant argued the 152 square metre walkway was not retail space as the shop would still provide access to the car park.

But Cr Jones disagreed saying the $81,466.47 parking bill contribution was money council could spend elsewhere in the city.

“There is nothing special about this claim they’re providing access to the public car park,” he said.

“The community does not have to pay to support a multimillion dollar company.”

Cr Brown said the chemist shop would be similar to his own Summer Street shop that provided a walkway for customers to the Anson Street car park.

He conceded the walkway was also retail space, but said the walkways in businesses along Summer Street were essential.

“If those businesses [in Quinn’s Arcade] we’re not successful that’s got nothing to do with it,” he said.

“Neither is whether he [the developer] can afford it or not.”

Cr Gryllis said there was nothing stopping the current tenants of the arcade from using the current walkway as retail space.

But Cr Hamling said plans for the shop’s layout showed shelving taking over the central aisle of the walkway which would force people to sidestep shelves to walk through the shop.

clare.colley@fairfaxmedia.com

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