GREEN LIGHT: Works are set to intensify at the Fifteenth Street and Deakin Avenue location of Mildura’s first Aldi supermaket after the international chain successfully challenged conditions imposed on the site by Mildura Council.

GERMAN supermarket chain Aldi will begin ramping up construction of its first Mildura store after successfully contesting a number of conditions imposed on the site by Mildura Rural City Council late last year.

Council approved Aldi’s planning application to construct a store on the corner of Deakin Avenue and Fifteenth Street in November 2017 subject to a number of conditions.

They included reducing signage height to nine metres, and relocating Aldi’s proposed Fifteenth Street access further west.

Council also called on Aldi to remove right turning in and out of the site onto Fifteenth Street, with alterations to left-turn movement into the site from Fifteenth Street also called for to reduce the speed of traffic entering the site.

Aldi was also ordered to bear the cost of constructing and installing a pedestrian crossing in Fifteenth Street to allow safer access.

Aldi, however, chose to contest several of these conditions through the Victorian Civil and Administration Tribunal (VCAT), with the planning umpire ruling in favour of the supermarket chain.

In regards to preventing right turns into and out of the site from Fifteenth Street, the tribunal found that VicRoads, in its initial response to the permit application, requested a road safety audit to confirm the location of the Fifteenth Street access and provision of right turns into and out of the site.

An audit was undertaken by GTA Consultants in September 2017.

Later, VicRoads raised no objection to the provision of right turns into or out of the site from Fifteenth Street, but required that the turn lanes on Fifteenth Street be constructed to the satisfaction of Council, and to the satisfaction of, and at no cost, to VicRoads.

Two traffic experts were called to testify on the safety of the turning requirements of the site, with VCAT senior member Margaret Baird and member Kate Partenio “not persuaded” to agree with Council that a right turn lane on Fifteenth Street will result in the need to prohibit right turns into properties opposite the site.

They ruled that, on balance, right turns into the site from Fifteenth Street should be permitted, and that right turn out of the supermarket into Fifteenth Street should be prohibited.

VCAT also ruled against Council’s request that Aldi foot the bill for a new pedestrian crossing in Fifteenth Street. The crossing was to be constructed at a location to be determined through a safety audit process.

According to the planning umpire, the need for a pedestrian crossing was not identified in Council’s internal engineering referral during the permit application process.

Expert witnesses agreed that the warrants for a pedestrian crossing were not expected to be met, and that the necessity for a pedestrian crossing as a condition of the permit was not supported. The hearing therefore removed the condition from the application.

Aldi has since said that it plans to move ahead with construction, and was aiming to complete the site by July 2019.