Liquor boss urges calm

Francesca MannGeraldton Guardian
Image: Getty
Camera IconImage: Getty Credit: Getty Images/Westend61

The owner of a large-format liquor store under construction in Utakarra has defended the store’s location by saying it’s “not your local bottle shop”.

Con’s Liquor Geraldton, on Utakarra Road, is expected to open in July or August after more than four years of backlash from the community. The initial application for the 1200sqm store, owned by Peter Jeffree’s company PDG Geraldton, was lodged in 2014 but was refused after a number of objections.

But in 2016 the store was given the green light by the Liquor Commission of WA after an appeal and with self-imposed conditions prohibiting the sale of low-cost items such as port and four-litre cask wines.

Among those objecting to the appeal were the police commissioner, Aboriginal community groups, Rangeway Utakarra Karloo Progress Association and Geraldton MLA Ian Blayney.

Mr Jeffree said the store would not just service the surrounding suburbs but would target the region. “This is a business for the region, not just Geraldton or Utakarra,” he said.

“The reason we’re there (in Utakarra) is ... that’s the only place that was available with that zoning. I love the town, it’s got so much potential.

“That’s why I’ve gone in there.

“Every town’s got problem spots but it’s not the area, it’s probably a couple of houses in the area.”

The liquor store, constructed by Crothers Construction, will be part of a new shopping precinct in the Geraldton suburb.

When the application was first lodged community members voiced their concern about its location next door to the Utakarra IGA supermarket’s drive-through bottle shop.

Owner Colin Findlay told The Geraldton Guardian the liquor section was temporarily closed and would reopen next door to Aldi on North West Coastal Highway.

The Rangeway Utakarra Karloo Progress Association has opposed the large-format liquor store from the start.

However, chairwoman Corryne Bull said they had lost the battle.

“There’s nothing we can do about it,” she said.

“We tried to do what we could (to stop it) and we failed. Of course we appreciate development, it’s nice to see something new built in the area.”

City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn welcomed the new development, noting it was great to see investment occurring outside the city centre.

“This is a new family business coming to Geraldton, investing millions into a precinct and road network that will lift the area of Utakarra significantly,” he wrote on Facebook.

“The development includes plans for a fast food outlet and additional retail space. “It’s about creating a precinct for the area.”

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