Orange City Council will seek talks with the proponents of a retail centre at Bloomfield in a bid to reduce the size of the supermarket and shops planned.
Councillors deferred deciding over re-zoning for the Forest Road area that would have allowed a medium-sized supermarket and several other shops at the Bloomfield Medical Centre.
It followed strongly-worded submissions from CBD business people concerned a new retail area would drain city trade.
There are currently more than 15 vacant retail shops in the CBD.Kate Gray, Orange pharmacist
Pharmacists Kate and Tim Gray were among those to lodge a submission which said the CBD had "suffered a steep decline in overall retail sales" since COVID-19.
On Tuesday night Mrs Gray urged councillors to support the CBD.
She said a 'neighbourhood shopping centre' planned for the nearby Shiralee area would be sufficient and opposed the Bloomfield development.
"There are currently more than 15 vacant retail shops in the CBD, as well as another one added last week, as well as a significant vacancy of upstairs rental space," she said.
Cr Scott Munro said he opposed "any large development" at Bloomfield until the population grew to provide demand that would not harm the CBD.
Cr Jason Hamling agreed. "I can support a shop but I can't support a supermarket at this time," he said.
Council was told there was already approval for 11 shops and a restaurant at the site but the developers were seeking a 'tweaking' to have less, but larger shops.
It was also told the applicant could take the matter to the state government if council did not support it.
Cr Jeff Whitton said it could be taken out of council's hands as had happened with the North Orange shopping centre development.
"We may not have a say in this process at all," he said.
Cr Russell Turner said council should try to defer the development "for as long as we can" to aid the CBD during COVID-19 and uncertain times.
Mayor Cr Reg Kidd said there was "no end to what we can put on the table" in talks with the applicant.
He said the population was "nowhere near" what would be needed to support the new development and he did not expect it to be achieved for many years.
Cr Kidd said the Shiralee housing area was "moving very, very, very slowly."
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