Retail plan must wait

LAUREN PRIESTLEY
Last updated 05:00 04/12/2013
Stonefields

MORE DEVELOPMENT: The Warehouse will overlook the booming Stonefields suburb.

stonefields
NOT HAPPY: Robert Scott and John Kerr want a plan for a new retail development at Stonefields that will work for residents as well as developers.

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Worried homeowners fear a shadow will fall over the sunny suburb of Stonefields in 2021 if a retail giant gets the green light to develop a piece of land there.

Stonefields Residents Association members John Kerr and Robert Scott are leading the charge against a proposed development on the 3.1ha site on the corner of Lunn Ave and Ngahue Drive.

The planned complex would feature The Warehouse, several other retailers and cafes.

The group says it is not the retail development that annoys them, but the way it is being planned.

"By some very simple measures they could turn what is a dog of a development into something that they will be proud of and the community would integrate with," civil engineer Mr Kerr says.

The site cannot be developed until 2021 because of a stipulation in the certificate of title.

The company has requested an extended resource consent period of eight years.

Mr Scott is a town planner by trade and feels the development's design is seriously lacking. The building placement at the back of the site will be visually unappealing, closing off residents' access to the shops and blocking the view of Mt Wellington, Mr Scott says.

A truck entrance is planned for busy Ngahue Drive, and a three-metre wall will have to be built along the residential borders to block noise and comply with council regulations.

Mr Scott says there is a simple solution to these problems.

He says the plans just need to be turned around with the building on the roadside and carparks at the back to make better use of existing facilities and keep the residents happy.

The Warehouse asked that its application go straight to the Environment Court and the request was granted last week. A hearing date has not been set yet.

It will be very expensive for Stonefields residents to fight the development in the Environment Court, Mr Scott says.

"We're not opposed to The Warehouse or retail development. That's what this area is zoned for. It's how they've gone about it."

Stonefields resident Helen Quenneville says the current design would be bad for the suburb.

"The noise would just echo down here because we're basically at the bottom of a funnel. It would also drive so many people to the area and the traffic here is already too congested. I don't support it at all."

A spokesperson from The Warehouse says the application outlines the careful attention given to building design and landscaping.

"The [Environment Court] process will allow all parties to engage on all of the issues at this early stage in a way that is not possible through the council hearing process."

Auckland Council resource consent manager David Oakhill says there were 23 submissions on the proposed development at Lunn Ave. The main concerns were design and traffic related.

The council sat down with the developers and raised concerns about the design in pre-application meetings, he says.

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"The court will be making the final decision on the application. It's now out of the hands of the council."

Email community@ stonefields.org.nz to contact the residents' association about the issue.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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