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Store expansion disputed

EMMA WHITTAKER
Last updated 05:00 20/11/2013
Mt Eden Countdown

NO DEAL: Valley Rd residents Rob Dexter and Astrid Modrow say expanding Mt Eden’s Countdown will only bring more problems for neighbours.

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Expansion is in the pipeline for a popular supermarket but the promise of a greater shopping experience isn't winning everyone over.

Countdown has been in talks with Mt Eden residents ahead of lodging a resource consent application to expand its Eden Valley store by around a third.

A supermarket has been on the site since the 1970s and the store is one of the brand's busiest in New Zealand.

A council owned art deco building and a pre-1940s apartment block would be demolished under the plans to create extra car parking.

Two houses on Ewington Ave would also need be removed to make way for a new service entrance.

Valley Rd residents Astrid Modrow and Rob Dexter hope the plans don't eventuate.

They've been against the upgrade since 2011 when the community was first notified.

"As a big business it is their right, but we don't see that the council should support it under the plan to be the most liveable city," Mr Dexter says.

While the current size of the supermarket is sufficient to service the community, it is also the source of a number of complaints for neighbours, Mr Dexter and Ms Modrow say.

Noise, light pollution, smelly bins and rubbish blowing on to neighbouring properties are among their complaints.

The two buildings to be removed are providing a barrier for now, they say.

"Countdown wants to sell the expansion to the community as something that is special and good for them, but what they don't really make clear is that there will be more traffic and more noise," Ms Modrow says.

They also fear small, struggling businesses will be at risk as the upgrade could draw away more customers.

The supermarket company doesn't own either of the Valley Rd properties set for removal, but the Auckland Council is offering up 114 Valley Rd for sale.

Countdown previously owned the section until the Auckland City Council purchased it in 2004 to create a bus corridor through the Valley Rd intersection.

Now that land is no longer needed for the project the council is contractually obliged to offer it back.

Council assessments of the buildings show they have little heritage value.

The company has applied to the council to have the section rezoned from residential to commercial.

Countdown's property general manager Adrian Walker says the company became aware some years ago the store may need to grow.

"Having been part of the Mt Eden community for a long time now, where concerns are raised with us, we always do our best to address these. We have and are continuing to talk with local residents and community boards and are listening to this feedback as we work through the design process."

The Albert-Eden Local Board is aware of the plans and chairman Peter Haynes says its concerns are around residents' amenities and ensuring the character of the area is not lost.

"I've told Countdown they don't need the additional parking, and the board has tried to look for solutions using the present area, but without success."

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