By Amy Looker
Coles' 1st Choice Liquor chain has responded to health authority objections to a new store application by arguing that the big box outlet would bring economic benefits and increased employment.
The outlet proposed for Singleton, NSW would be attached to a Coles supermarket and part of a major redevelopment of the Gowrie Street Mall.
NSW Health lodged the objection in December last year, expressing concern over the potential alcohol-related harm that could impact the Singleton area and its residents.
It backed up its objection with statistics that indicate that Singleton has higher proportions of demographics known to be at risk of alcohol-related harm and the number of already established liquor licences in the suburb.
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NSW Health also made reference to First Choice's advertised 'war on liquor prices', citing research that cheaper alcohol prices lead to higher alcohol consumption.
However, First Choice responded that consumers would benefit from increased liquor retail competition in the area as a result of the outlet, which would also have economic benefits including increased employment; and better and more convenient shopping facilities.
The retailer also stressed its commitment to minimising alcohol-related harm.
"1st Choice takes its responsibilities regarding the sale of liquor extremely seriously and arguably does so at the highest and safest level in circumstances where liquor is not consumed at the premises," it said.
"1st Choice has a notable level of success in this regard from a safety and responsible service of alcohol point of view."
The application is now in the hands of the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, which will make further assessment of the proposal.