Proposal to reactivate the Masters hardware

An aerial view of the empty Masters hardware super store at West Gosford. Image Central Coast Council

A $3.1m proposal to reactivate the Masters hardware store at 392 Manns Rd, West Gosford, vacant since December 2016, and create 150 to 200 jobs, has been received by Central Coast Council.

The proposal would alter the existing commercial premises to create eight tenancies for continued use as Hardware and Building Supplies. In August 2016, Home Consortium acquired 61 former Masters stores across Australia, with the aim of immediately re-activating each of the sites to ensure a sustainable and successful large format bulky goods retail offering in each case. The West Gosford site has been identified as one of the priority sites for Home Consortium in NSW.

The Masters box is to be split into multiple smaller building and hardware tenants under the proposal. This is potentially an interim arrangement, until a West Gosford Planning Proposal (PP 91/2016), which is being considered concurrently by Central Coast Council, is gazetted to allow additional bulky goods onsite.

According to a Statement of Environmental Effects submitted with the application, the proposal seeks consent to enclose the open-air garden centre at the building’s northern elevation; alter the façade, including new openings for loading and unloading, new infill panels, feature panels and make up air louvres; modify the centre layout and construct inter-tenancy walls for eight tenancies and an ancillary cafe; and, continue use of the building for hardware and building supplies. “Importantly, the proposal will retain employment on the site and provide for approximately 150 to 200 operational jobs, in addition to employment created during construction,” the SEE said. “This is a significant social and economic benefit for West Gosford, particularly given that Masters vacated the site in December 2016.”

According to the application, the existing regular shaped site is 24,417 square metres in area, and has a primary frontage to Manns Rd to the west. Vehicular access is from Manns Rd and a series of internal access roads known as Oak Haven Cl. The JRPP granted development consent for the creation of the Masters store and surrounding bulky goods retail in 2012. On June 7, 2016, a Planning Proposal was lodged over the site and the adjacent site at 356 Manns Road, West Gosford. On February 2, 2017, an amended Planning Proposal was lodged with Central Coast Council to delete the maximum floor space area limitations on both sites and to alter the additional permitted uses from bulky goods/business premises to commercial premises for existing buildings on the subject site and from bulky goods to commercial premises on the adjacent site. The Planning Proposal received Gateway Determination on July 6, 2017.

An Amended Gateway Determination was issued on April 3 and public exhibition has now concluded. This DA relates specifically to hardware and building uses and modifications to the existing building envelope, so the Planning Proposal to permit additional bulky goods floor space has no impact on it, but if the Planning Proposal is gazetted, Home Consortium may convert the tenancies to bulky goods. “The external changes to the store are minor and limited to the enclosure of the garden area, mechanical amendments to the roof plant and window areas, and construction of external entries to facilitate onsite loading,” the SEE said. “The proposal includes no increase to the Gross Floor Area (GFA) of the existing approval, as the garden centre was included as GFA in the original Masters development.

“Vehicular access remains unchanged. “Loading access will be provided for each tenancy to reduce onsite delays and to ensure loading is efficient. “External access points are located on the northern, southern and western elevations. “As loading will predominately occur outside of business hours, there will be minimal disruption to customer access.” The DA is largely compliant with all Council development controls apart from a parking shortfall. The Development Control Plan (DCP) for the site requires a total of 447 parking bays but the existing car park provides 347 car parking bays. “Despite the variation, this was considered acceptable in the original Masters DA, (DA 40353/2011), and as there is no change to the ongoing use of the site, is considered acceptable,” the SEE said.

“The proposal has been considered against the relevant provisions under Section 4.15 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, and achieves a high level of compliance with the relevant provisions. “The proposal is appropriate for the site and surrounding area and warrants development consent. “The proposal is permissible with consent and is consistent with the objectives of the IN1 General Industrial Zone. “It results in minimal changes to the site layout, bulk and scale, access and egress arrangements. “The impact on the community and the environment has generally already been deemed acceptable by way of the previous consent. “It will support approximately 150 to 200 jobs in the locality, and provide new retailers and expanded choice for consumers, and will provide a positive social and economic benefit to the locality. “The proposal will reactivate the dormant site and is therefore in the public interest,” the SEE concluded.

Source: DA54228/2018, May 23 Gosford DA Tracker, Central Coast Council