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6 December, 2021

Cape York supermarket plans held back by red tape

Coen desperately wants and needs a new supermarket but a red-tape nightmare could delay proposed plans for several years.

By Matt Nicholls

COEN desperately wants and needs a new supermarket but a red-tape nightmare could delay proposed plans for several years.

Coen Regional Aboriginal Corporation, in partnership with Cook Shire Council, has eyes on a parcel of land that would be suitable for a supermarket and a roadhouse/truck stop.

But the land is marked as Coen Town Reserve, which means it cannot be used for commercial purposes unless it is re-zoned.

Both CRAC and Cook Shire Council want the state government to step in and have the land converted to freehold so plans for the business precinct can be advanced.

However, the state government has yet to come to the party, insisting that an arduous procedure be undertaken to have the land’s use altered.

“The paperwork and process could take up to two years,” mayor Peter Scott said.

“If the Minister doesn’t have the power in the legislation to make the change, we are asking the state government to look at making Coen a test case.

“There’s an issue with town reserve plots in a lot of Queensland towns that can’t be used for anything.”

CRAC chairman Dion Creek said Coen was in desperate need of an IGA-type supermarket to service the growing community.

“Our numbers are growing and we have a lot of tourists in the dry season,” he said.

“But it’s in the wet season when we really need a supermarket. Coen gets cut off most years and there have been times when they had to fly in essential groceries.”

Cr Scott said he hoped the government would see Coen’s situation as an opportunity to look at town reserves and how they could be better utilised.

Minister for Resources Scott Stewart is sitting on the fence.

“I understand Cook Shire Council has been working with my department for some months on the supermarket proposal,” he told Cape York Weekly.

“I’m advised that the proposal currently under discussion is conversion of a parcel of land to freehold, with council potentially then able to purchase the land.

“This would also involve council addressing native title rights and interests directly with the Native Title claimants.

“I encourage council to consider this as a priority if they wish to progress the conversion and their proposal, and to continue to work with my department.”


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