IGA opens at UOW

CHECK IT OUT: UOW Vice Chancellor Paul Wellings at the new IGA on campus on Wednesday. The top items sold since opening are an energy drink, sausage rolls, chocolates and strawberries. Picture: Paul Jones

CHECK IT OUT: UOW Vice Chancellor Paul Wellings at the new IGA on campus on Wednesday. The top items sold since opening are an energy drink, sausage rolls, chocolates and strawberries. Picture: Paul Jones

The community is said to benefit after the official opening of a controversial supermarket on campus at the University of Wollongong on Wednesday.

The 435 square-metre IGA store will operate seven days a week with 40 staff, most of which will be students.

In June, the university fought back against paying a contribution on the supermarket, engaging lawyers when Wollongong City Council tried to impose developer fees of $7,327.10.

The fees, known as Section 94A contributions, are applied to developers across the city to offset the cost of public facilities, like roads and paths.

The university has previously been exempt from paying the levy, as it is developing public infrastructure which has educational benefits, but council staff have recommended to remove fee exemptions for all works except those “directly required by the main function of the educational facility”.

UOW Vice Chancellor Paul Wellings said the institution already makes substantial community contributions which would become a challenge and potentially may cease in the future if policies were changed.

“In the last few years we’ve put $1.6 million in different ways. I think we’ve invested in the bus services which are open to lots of citizens. We’ve invested in the upgrades down Northfields Avenue,” Professor Wellings said.

Last month UOW revealed its 20 year master plan for Wollongong with major developments to create a city within a city, meaning fees could be incurred.

Under the plan student population – including those living on campus – would heavily increase. 

Six new faculty buildings and two new learning and teaching spaces totaling about 80,000 square metres of new floor space would cater for this.

An “extended-hour campus life” will create a “sticky” campus for staff and students, according to the plan, encouraging them to stay longer and “providing a compelling place for learning “ 24/7.

“Existing and proposed facilities (such as the new IGA ) will be supplemented with additional complementary food outlets and entertainment opportunities,” the plan says.

These cafes, restaurants and licenced venues – including a proposed bar for staff on the roof of the library – would have extended hours, to “enliven” the campus during night and day.

Meantime, the choice to use a large franchise instead of a local independent grocer was because “students will want price competitiveness”.

Despite IGA being blamed – along with other national supermarkets – in forcing prices down to unsustainable levels for local farmers, Professor Wellings said that’s the nature of all supermarkets.

”We all live in that world where we go to Aldi, Coles and Woolies and IGA’s and accept the fact that some other process is going on in the background of that retail chain.”

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