Deluges over recent days have forced changes to Bandicoot’s plans. He has had to resort to shopping – a least-favoured activity, but at least out of the rain. And we are well into the Christmas cash-hurling period.

Tul - Christmas tree in aisle copyAfter a few sober acquisitions at a hardware store, Bandicoot found himself adjacent to a rural supermarket tucked in behind Mt Eliza. He has often seen it on his way to and from the Bower farther south, but this was the first visit.

What a glittering Aladdin’s Cave! The assault on the Old Coot’s twin aural nerves was overwhelming from the moment he entered the crowded brightly-lit emporium. Tinned fish to the left of him, exotic tropical fruits to the right, merry Yule music echoed and trilled as Bandicoot charged for the pistachios.

tul - fruit copyHis not to reason why, his but to choose and buy, to bowdlerise Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s famous ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’. Christmas shopping has, when analysed frivolously, much in common technically with that famous bungled cavalry ride into the jaws of death.

The fatal impulse is reaction to a sort of paramilitary command: shoppers blindly, instinctively, obey the unremitting advertising bombardment which intensifies from November. We are, shell-shocked, drawn into shops. The advert-resistant (so he thinks) Bandicoot must join the throng, to search desperately for items suitable for tinsel and tape: something for everyone on The List.

Tul - mayonnaise etc copy[To divert: the famous, foolish charge occurred on 25 October 1854 against Russian forces in the Crimean War, during the Battle of Balaclava. Six hundred and 74 men of the Light Brigade, a British light cavalry unit, charged Russian guns. More than 100 were cut down, more died later of their wounds.]

Meanwhile, back in the supermarket, Bandicoot was acquiring at lightning speed. Tinned fish were first into the basket, followed by NZ-bottled soft drinks, a jar of Thomy-brand mayonnaise, Red Hill Kitchen honey tarragon mustard and the aforementioned pistachios.

Was that a DeLonghi coffee maker he saw behind a crowd?

tul - muesli, oats &c copyIn rapid succession there followed enough muesli to last until January, from the extensive range. Oats were rejected. In the fruit section a “drinking coconut” and a custard apple were selected, along with pre-packed fruit salad. The tropical fruit was carefully plastic-shrouded to ensure it survived the trip from Queensland or farther afield in good nick.

Bandicoot, being a vegetarian, bypassed the alluring meat department.

After picking up a Saturday paper and a small, attractive potted Christmas tree on the way out, he spotted another section apparently selling dog food, laundry liquid, garden fertiliser and the like. This must await another visit, he decided and headed for the Bandi-van.

But wait! His still-spinning eyes alighted on a label attached to a purchase. It contained the word “Tully’s”. So this was the “supermarket” described in a famous 2016 VCAT case (see below) as “… a subcategory of the land use ‘Shop’. As such it is a shop,” ruled Senior VCAT Member Russell Byard, “which is a prohibited use [in the green wedge zone].”

tul - pistachios, jars of nuts copyBut this was a green wedge area. And the supermarket is a “prohibited use”, and thriving! Bandicoot experienced a strong frisson of delightful law-breaking guilt. Did shopping at an illegal supermarket mean a possible jail sentence? Other customers appeared unconcerned. Bandicoot adopted a jaunty air.

Back in the Bandi-cave, the computer was fired up and the VCAT case was tracked down. Senior Member Byard had strongly tipped the wink to Mornington Peninsula Shire on 19 July 2016 – 503 days ago – that planning order should be restored at this site by bringing the prohibited use to a halt.

Senior Member Baird’s ruling quoted Mornington Peninsula Shire’s own planning rules with approval: they “strongly discourag[ed] retail, restricted retail, service station and office developments from locating in out-of-centre … non-urban locations…” he said.

“Fragmentation of commercial activity is not in the long term interests of the community,” the shire submission to VCAT stated. “Strengthening the existing hierarchy of activity centres is sustainable, equitable and achieves net community benefit.”

tul - Pellegrino, Chia NZ-bottled fruit drinks &c copyThe point is further driven home: “… rural areas and roads [must be protected] from intrusion by commercial uses that are primarily urban in character, such as freestanding convenience shops, take-away food shops and service stations which are more appropriately located in township areas.”

Tully’s was at VCAT appealing against the shire’s refusal to permit a bottle shop, “a licensed premises”, at the supermarket. Senior Member Byard spent longer dealing with the supermarket than with the bottle shop.

“…[T]his is not an appropriate location” for a bottle shop, Senior Member Byard ruled, adding: “The proposed land use would be for a bottle shop which is prohibited in this zone” before concluding: “The decision of the responsible authority to refuse to grant a permit is affirmed and no permit is granted.”

Bandicoot saw no licensed premises at Tully’s, but the supermarket continues to operate, apparently untroubled by the shire’s enforcement team. Will this illegal premises still be operating in another 503 days – in April 2019?