Pharmacy: health destination or shop

48653728 - young female pharmacist talking to a customer at the counter pleasantly.

When is a pharmacy a retail shop?

That’s the question that was posed in Busselton, Western Australia, when a development application for a medical centre was knocked back because it included a pharmacy.

The rejection has now been overturned by the State Administration Tribunal, allowing the complex to go ahead.

The application, Realview Holdings, sought a review of the City of Busselton’s decision to refuse the development application, which involved internal works to a previously approved building to use the premises as a medical centre, by creating consulting rooms, a reception area, surgery and treatment room – and a pharmacy.

The parties disagreed as to whether the proposed development application – particularly the pharmacy – should be characterised as a “medical centre” or as a “shop” under the city’s local planning scheme.

The land on which the development is planned is zoned as “restricted business,” meaning a shop is not permitted.

Realview Holdings argued that the pharmacy element was properly defined as a “medical centre,” or “forming part of a medical centre,” while the City contended that a pharmacy is a shop and might attract other retailers.

The State Administration Tribunal decided to overturn the original rejection based on the definition of “medical centre” in the planning scheme, which included the words, “professional accommodation… for pharmacists”.

It said that a pharmacy provides this professional accommodation, and therefore should be categorised as a “medical centre”.

And it rejected the City of Busselton’s contention that the decision would set a precedent allowing retailers to move into the area, because most retailers – unlike the proposed pharmacy accommodation – clearly fall within the term “shop”.

City development services and policy manager Anthony Rowe told the West Australian that the City was “disappointed” and that it would move to change its local planning scheme as a result.

“(The) model definition for a medical centre is specifically only for the treatment of human injuries and ailments,” he told the paper’s Taelor Pelusey.

“The City is in the process of amending its scheme to align with the minster’s model scheme text and its definitions which, in respect to a medical centre, places an emphasis in providing treatment.”

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