Business owners say council plan will hurt expansion
BUSINESS owners in the Hanson Rd precinct are uniting against what they label as "restrictive" measures detailed in the council's draft planning scheme.
With just two days left for people to comment on the draft, more than 60 concerned business and property owners have appealed to the council to reconsider one aspect of the plan - in the interests of protecting local small business.
The draft states that no further expansion of "bulky goods, showrooms, offices or retail" will take place on the commercial strip at Hanson Rd.
But limiting further retail expansion goes against the fabric of commerce in that area, say members of a newly formed alliance.
They say a change would jeopardise the only retail precinct in the Gladstone region that has a 0% vacancy rate.
In August The Observer reported on the future of the Hanson Rd precinct after a majority of councillors voted in favour of relocating bulky goods retail stores to Kirkwood.
That 5-4 vote proposed Hanson Rd would operate as a centre for automotive goods and services only.
Business owner Janelle Knight said the group first heard about those plans in August, and the alliance was formed soon afterwards.
She said if this part of the council's draft planning scheme was adopted it would restrict the ability for more bulky goods to move into the Hanson Rd business precinct.
"Gladstone certainly needs positive development," she said.
"We need options and Hanson Rd is the prime place for that, right in the heart of Gladstone."
Members of the alliance yesterday occupied every spare seat in the council gallery as they presented a submission to council.
Property owner Len Smith said the draft planning scheme was inconsistent with the nature of a small community.
"A zoning change could potentially see the loss of several small businesses and a loss of revenue in the local economy," he said.
"We don't want big multi-national companies beside us, pushing us out.
"Families would suffer through a loss of jobs."
Mr Smith said if the changes went ahead the consequences would be felt right across the community.
"We (the Alliance) want to retain the small community feel," he said.
"Gladstone hosts a lot of world leaders in industry, but we are very much still a small town. The residents want customer service to reflect that."
Libby Green is co-owner of several outlets on Hanson Rd and she said the unity of small business owners was the only good thing to have so far come from the draft planning scheme.
"All of these businesses are supporting each other against a zoning change," she said.
Spokespeople for Gladstone Regional Council said it would be inappropriate to comment on the draft scheme while it was still open for public comment.