Lack of Johnsonville Mall progress angers residents left in the dark over redevelopment plans
It was standing room only at a public meeting in Johnsonville as frustrations about the lack of progress on the suburb's shopping centre boiled over.
More than 250 people filled the Johnsonville Community Centre on Wednesday night for a meeting chaired by Labour Ohariu candidate Greg O'Connor.
"The fact that so many people turned out on a cold winter's night to express their concern about the lack of development of the mall is evidence of the depth of feeling on the matter in the northern suburbs," he said.
The meeting, which was also attended by Wellington Mayor Justin Lester, heard that resource consent had been granted for the mall redevelopment to go ahead, but it was now up to Stride Property Group to make the next move.
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Despite multiple invitations, no-one from the property group attended the meeting, instead opting to provide a statement outlining the company's "current position on the proposed redevelopment".
"We have been working to secure pre-commitment from selected retailers as part of our commercial feasibility requirements.
"Negotiating with key tenants can be protracted and restricts the level of comment we are able to make to the public at the current time. We will update you when we have a level of certainty around this and an indicative timeline."
Johnsonville Shopping Centre manager Rachel Wallace said that, in addition to the statement, Stride had also offered a meeting with the company's general manager of investment management, Phillip Littlewood, and general manager of retail Roy Stansfield.
That invitation had been extended to Makara/Ohariu community board chairwoman Christine Grace and Ohariu MP Peter Dunne as well as Lester and O'Connor.
Dunne, who was unable to attend the meeting due to obligations in Parliament, had accepted the offer and planned to meet Stride representatives in coming weeks.
However, Paparangi resident Simon Pleasants, who attended the meeting, said without Stride fronting up to the public, the outcry for more information was likely to continue.
"There was a strong feeling of indignancy that our town centre is being held back by cynical corporatists in a boardroom in Auckland.
"The 20,000-30,000-strong local population deserve better," he said.
Standing room only at public meeting Jville on the Mall. A real concern for locals. pic.twitter.com/OufGNXbGOK— Greg O'Connor (@GregOhariu) May 24, 2017
O'Connor said the "deafening silence" was putting people on edge not only in Johnsonville itself, but those in neighbouring suburbs.
"What should be the beating heart of the northern suburbs is on life support."
"If they [Stride] can't do it, then get out. Let someone else actually develop it and allow for some organic growth, because at the moment any growth has been stifled."
The meeting concluded with a unanimous motion that Stride attend a future public meeting, of which O'Connor said there were likely to be several in coming months.