Town Council still blocking two servos: United


2491 United Katherine 1By ERWIN CHLANDA
Low-cost fuel company United Petroleum says the Alice Springs Town Council is still blocking the development of two service stations, one at the corner of Schwarz Crescent and Stuart Highway, and one further north on corner Stuart Highway and Sargent Street.
Last year the council said it is opposed to the Schwartz Crescent site (currently used by a tyre shop) but it is “reviewing the documentation” for the Sargent Street one (occupied by a car wrecker).
United CEO David Szymczak says the company owns both blocks, and has the government’s development approval.
Only the council is standing in the way to both projects going ahead: “They just don’t want us,” says Mr Szymczak who says he has been seeking approvals since November.
He says the reasons given are that the council doesn’t want traffic to exit onto Schwartz Crescent – although of course it is doing so now.
That project is “likely to fail” and the Sargent Street one is “stalled”.
In the Top End the company has difficulty with the NT Government, refusing to grant development permits.
At the same time the NT Government continues to complain about the high price of fuel, says Mr Szymczak: “The introduction of MyFuel NT in our view does not create competition.
“The problem is not information, it is structural and unless you build new service stations to create competition nothing will happen,” says Mr Szymczak.
“Unless the anti-development bureaucracy in the NT is addressed the people are doomed to pay too much for fuel – nothing will change.”
United has also looked at the old drive-in site but to comply with traffic requirements would cost $1m – and that is prohibitive, he says.
“United Petroleum has previously highlighted to the NT Government that it has changed strategy in the NT and redirected its capital spend to Queensland and Victoria.
“Currently United Petroleum has more than a two dozen new sites under construction in Queensland and Victoria.
“This deprives the NT of tens of millions of dollars in economic activity, costs jobs, reduces prosperity and results in the people paying too much for fuel.”
He says United Petroleum is a 100% Australian owned new generation oil company, which offers customers premium quality fuels at very competitive prices and innovative retail offers Australia wide.
“United Petroleum has recently commenced its rollout of Pie Face Stores and the first NT site opened in Katherine three months ago.”
Mr Szymczak says United Petroleum has over 400 retail service stations nationally, employing 4000 people.
We have requested comment from the Town Council.
PHOTO: United servo in Katherine with a Pie Face store.
UPDATE March 7: Council responds.
Council CEO Rex Mooney responded today: “Regarding the potential development on the corner of Schwarz Crescent and Stuart Highway, Council has ongoing concerns around the exit onto Schwarz Crescent which has been proposed by United Petroleum.
“This road is used heavily for access to St Philip’s College, and Council is not satisfied that the existing volume of traffic on Schwarz Crescent would be able to accommodate additional cars or trucks exiting a new petrol station.
“Council has advised United Petroleum that entry and exit to the proposed petrol station would need to be via Stuart Highway.
“With respect to the Braitling location, Council has advised United Petroleum that it does not object to the proposal, but cannot endorse any plan until United has provided a detailed design which addresses Council’s concerns.
“These are primarily issues around traffic at the junction of Sargent Street and Stuart Highway. Council has provided these concerns to United Petroleum in a comprehensive report.
“Council continues to assist United Petroleum within its area of responsibility.”


  1. Competiton is all well and good, but given the current economic situation it seems to me that opening two new service stations will end up being a zero sum game, as they will come at the expense of other service stations being forced to close.
    We’ve been here before, with the opening of the Woolworths Caltex service station in 2003 leading to at least one other service station closing, as I recall.
    We run the risk of gaining more empty business premises or vacant lots, of which there is currently no shortage in Alice Springs.
    The vacant block (formerly a Mobil service station) on the opposite corner to the Catholic Church on Wills Terrace is a case in point.
    We lost a service station there while gaining the Woolies station just down the same road. What’s the point?

  2. Interesting that you would say that Alex, and please correct me if I am wrong on this.
    Since I came to live in Alice Springs we have lost three service stations, Shell Todd, the Mobil Palms and Cnr Smith Street and Stuart Highway, but have gained at least six others (Truck Stop, Heavitree Gap, Mobil Larapinta, Mobil Eastside, Transit Plaza and the Woolies station).
    I can’t see another couple doing much damage, but am not sure about the location of one in the Beaurepaires site. Surely we have enough trouble on that corner already.

  3. As far as I am concerned competition is good and the residents of Alice Springs should have access to fuel distributors which charge a price comparable to what the general population pays for fuel in large metropical capital cities.

  4. I personally think since United has come to the town the price of fuel has come down a lot. I use premium 95 and they are currently cheaper than everyone else so why would the council block something which is encouraging competition.
    Having new ones in the centre of the town is even better, don’t have to drive to the other end of the town.

  5. @ Laurence (Posted March 8, 2018 at 2:17 pm): Don’t know when you came here, Laurence, but obviously quite a long time ago. The majority of the “new” service stations you list opened in the 1980s when Alice Springs expanded and changed considerably (the Truck Stop, for example, opened in 1987).
    Shell Todd closed in the 1990s, as I recall; and two other service stations that have long gone are Shell Oasis (the building still exists) and the Caltex Centre Service Station on the corner of Todd Street and Stott Terrace (now KFC).
    The closure of Mobil Palms on Wills Terrace in 2005 was attributed directly to competition with the Woolies service station opened two years earlier.

  6. Thanks Alex. I totally forgot about the Centre servo where KFC are and the Shell Oasis (sort of) has been replaced by the Coles / Shell servo on the corner.
    As usual you are a font of knowledge in regards to Alice Springs! Cheers.

  7. Competition is always better. Having more independents than corporate servos will be beneficial for the local economy.
    Also we get six cents off at United if a member of AANT so it is the best discount than anyone else in Alice.

  8. Whilst I acknowledge the frustration of the United CEO, as a builder who dabbles in development with several development applications in recent years, I too have experienced frustration and found it’s easy to pass blame when we think we are on a good thing.
    In Alice Springs Town Council’s defence, they are certainly not anti development, they are diligent and always willing to help in their capacity.
    From my experience it’s much easier to work with the authorities. Those who have lived in Alice for a while would appreciate that Schwarz Crescent is hectic at certain times of the day.
    Also, I too am in favour of competition, with company vehicle fuel bills around 6k per month.
    Hang in there David.

  9. Enough of this crap about the Town Council. They have NO powers and can easily be overridden by the NT Government.
    Just build them and they will come.
    A simple solution to Schwartz Crescent would be build Pie Face at the back with entrance from Schwartz Crescent and exit to Stuart Highway and the servo’s entrance and exit from and to Stuart Highway.


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