THE gateway to Orange could be in for a makeover if Orange City Council approves a $5 million bulky goods and takeaway complex proposed for a vacant block of land at the Orange Grove Homemakers Centre.
The developers of the 1.043 hectare site, next to Supercheap Auto, want to construct a 4000 square metre building backing on to the Mitchell Highway with enough space for six shops, another 580 square metre building with space for one shop and a small takeaway food outlet, and a 141 space car park.
Representatives of the developers Sentinel Property Group, which purchased the entire Orange Grove Homemakers Centre in January, met with council staff prior to lodging the development application to discuss the complex.
Staff expressed concern about the impact the building would have on the appearance of the entrance to Orange if it was to back onto the highway.
But Sentinel managing director Warren Ebert said having the service road and delivery area facing the highway was the only option.
“We can’t put in any more driveways on to the highway in order to comply with the requirements,” he said.
“You need centre parking so you have to have the trade-off of all the retailers facing the one direction.”
He was confident architectural changes to the building including coloured panels, landscaping, and the building being cut into the ground beneath the highway level would allow it to blend in to the area.
“We’re aware of what [council planners] are saying and we’ve had architects work on it,” he said.
“We’re not coming into town and saying we’re going to whack up whatever we like.”
Mr Ebert said the company will approach potential food businesses after the development is approved, but was already seeking larger retail tenants as a drawcard for shoppers.
“We’re happy to hear from the town about what people want,” he said.
“We want to develop things that work for the community.
“I like to think we can get some food component in there given it’s on the highway and has good parking.”
Mr Ebert said representatives from Sentinel met with council staff again yesterday and intended to pursue the development in a timely manner.
“We are not seen as a passive owner where you buy something and let it sit there for the next generation,” he said.
Mr Ebert said two retailers had agreed to move into the two existing vacant shops in the homemaker centre.
The DA was referred to the council traffic committee, which inspected the site on Tuesday and will also be assessed by the Roads and Maritime Services because if its highway frontage.
The car park will be accessed off the internal road near Bunnings.