Residents are divided over whether a large service centre located five minutes from the existing Murrumbateman village service station and grocery should go ahead.

The service centre proposal is part of the Barton Highway duplication, a NSW and Federal Government project, and is proposed for a two hectare site at the intersection of Long Rail Gully Road. The land is currently privately owned and used for grazing.

Community concerns had been raised that such a centre would take business away from the smaller BP service station and Friendly Grocer which fronts the Barton Highway in the centre of the village.

Murrumbateman Progress Association president Greg Weekes said his group neither supported nor opposed the service centre plan.

“We didn’t take an official stand on this because the feedback we’ve received has been mixed. On that basis, we did not make a submission. We have left it to individual members to have their say.”

He said the main thrust for Murrumbateman residents seemed to be they didn’t want business to be taken away from the local BP service station or food outlets – but that they could see the benefits of having a service centre.

Yass Valley Mayor Rowena Abbey said the council did not make planning decisions based on whether a proposal was commercially viable.

“What we look at, as a council, is whether the zoning is appropriate for that location,” she said.

“During all the consultation process, one of the concerns raised was that a service centre would take business away from the BP station there. But anyone who has been there knows that it can’t be used by big trucks or people with horse floats – it is too hard to get in. What this service centre proposal does is provide an alternative.”

Ms Abbey said she voted for the service centre proposal because she believed, in the long term, it could be a good thing for Murrumbateman.

“But there are still a lot of hoops that need to be gone through before this goes ahead. It could be two to three years away,” she said.

“Like with all rezonings, first it has to be approved and from there you have to look at design concepts, traffic … so many other issues before it can proceed.”

Yass Valley Council’s Director of Planning and Environment, Julie Rogers said there had been extensive public consultation about the service centre proposal.

Plans were put on public exhibition from 6 May to 7 June this year with the community advised of the proposal via the Yass Valley Council website, Facebook page, newsletters and notification to the Murrumbateman Progress Association, she said.

“Letters were also sent to four adjoining and adjacent landholders notifying them of the consultation.”

Ms Rogers said 34 submissions were received during the consultation period and a planning forum was also held on 14 July.

A spokesperson for the BP service station and Friendly Grocer at Murrumbateman was contacted for comment.

Extracted in full from: Murrumbateman service centre plan splits locals | The RiotACT (