Endeavour Group has confirmed it will move the site of its proposed Dan Murphy’s Darwin store site following community feedback.
The decision comes after the NT government tabled legislation this week to see all government applications answered within 30 days, following a five-year battle by Dan Murphy’s to open in the Territory.
The new proposed Darwin store site is between McMillans Road and Osgood Drive – near the Sabine Road intersection – and would be in the middle of an already developed area. The site is still part of the planned Darwin Airport Retail Precinct, however it is a greater distance from the Bagot Community than the originally proposed site.
Leaders in Aboriginal communities and health organisations have previously urged the Liquor Commission to reject the application because of existing high levels of alcohol-related problems, including domestic violence and other crimes in the area.
An Endeavour Group spokesman said that Indigenous communities near the store have indicated that there is now no opposition if the store is moved to the revised site.
“The new site is further away from local Indigenous communities and we believe the change will help to alleviate some of the key concerns,” said Shane Tremble, General Manager Corporate Service for Endeavour Group.
“We have spent a lot of time having meaningful conversations with local communities to understand their views, listen to any concerns they may have and to address them,” he added.
The company has been working closely with the Elders and leaders of both the Minmarama and Kulaluk communities and have committed to a number of measures that we believe will mitigate the risk of alcohol related harm. Both of these communities have expressed their support for the revised application.
The measures include the development of a Responsible Service and Consumption Plan to ensure that the store has appropriate product ranging, pricing and promotion and a commitment to a precinct management committee to ensure that the area around the proposed store is properly managed.
“We have been having conversations with the NT Government for some time now about the possibility of moving the location of the store following community feedback,” Tremble added.
If approved, the Darwin Dan Murphy’s would have the most stringent set of alcohol control policies anywhere in the country.
“We have been and continue to engage with local communities to listen to and address any concerns they may have and incorporate them as part of our Responsible Service of Alcohol Management Plan,” Tremble said. “If approved, we are committed to continuing an open dialogue with the people of Darwin.”
The Dan Murphy’s store would be the anchor tenant of the proposed Darwin Airport Central retail precinct, worth approximately $30 million of private investment. The development of the store and the retail precinct is estimated to create 200 construction jobs, and more than 150 permanent jobs going forward.
The proposed Dan Murphy’s store would be what the retailer classifies as a ‘fine wine precinct’, which means half of the entire product range would be wine, with most falling into the premium category ($20 per bottle or more).
If the store is approved, it could be trading within 12 months of the decision.
The five-year battle
In December 2016, the NT government introduced legislation that limited the floor size of bottle shops to 400sqm.
The move meant Dan Murphy’s was unable to obtain a development permit. Endeavour Drinks Group commenced legal action to have the floor size restriction quashed, but later withdrew it.
A review by former chief justice Trevor Riley recommended changes to the Northern Territory’s alcohol policies, including scrapping the floor-size restrictions, capping the number of take away liquor outlets and setting a floor price for alcohol.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner conceded that he made an error in pushing for the 400-square-metre rule, which had been dubbed the “Dan Ban”.
“I got that one wrong going into the election and it has been good to see that Trevor [Riley] has come forward with this report with a much more considered, better way of dealing with density and sales of take-away outlets,” Gunner said.
When Endeavour’s application to the NT Liquor Commission was rejected last year, Gunner said he was disappointed by the decision.
“Territorians want a Dan Murphy’s,” he noted. “I want to see a Dan Murphy’s in Darwin.
“Today’s decision is a kick in the guts for responsible drinkers, who want more choice in the Darwin market.”