Council paves way for Gisborne Aldi store

Aldi is a step closer to opening a supermarket in Gisborne, with Macedon Ranges council deciding to deal only with the grocery chain for the sale of a 2025-square-metre block of land at 51 Aitken Street for a carpark.

Councillors last week approved a recommendation to sell the land, long earmarked for a carpark, to Aldi for $600,000, having overturned an earlier decision to seek expressions of interest from any interested parties.

As reported by Star Weekly, Aldi is preparing a planning application for a supermarket on another block.

Cr John Letchford was among those who said contamination of the former Shire of Gisborne depot site would affect land value.

But council corporate services director Glenn Owens confirmed to Star Weekly that monitoring was restricted to an adjoining lot, at 49 Aitken Street, and had ceased in 2015.

No mention of contamination was made in either report to council.

‘‘This history is not relevant to the current proposal to construct a carpark on lot 4 [51 Aitken Street],’’ Mr Owens said after the meeting.

The original decision over an open expressions of interest process was passed last month on mayor Graham Hackett’s casting vote.

But with Cr Henry McLaughlin back in the chamber last Wednesday, Cr Russell Mowatt’s push to search for the best possible price was defeated. Cr Mowatt had argued there was no need for a ‘‘fire sale’’ at $600,000 when the land could be worth much more.

‘‘What is the site’s true worth? We certainly don’t know if we go ahead and sell it by private treaty,’’ he said. ‘‘As a council, have we explored all options? I have my doubts.’’

Cr Mowatt also argued the council could have a conflict of interest when it came to decide on a future Aldi planning permit.

Cr Letchford said it would be mischievous to say due diligence had not been carried for the carpark application, while Cr Sally Piper said the council had an opportunity to make a sale that would have far-reaching community benefits.

“This is the closest parcel of land to the CBD which can offer a way to reduce the carparking shortage,” she said. “We also know this land is not suitable for anything else than a carpark and comparisons with other sales nearby are irrelevant.”

Cr McLaughlin said the resulting consultation process could still attract other developers.

Submissions about the planned sale will be considered at a meeting on May 11.