Shopping centre plans revealed

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 06:11 01/11/2012
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Plans for a new shopping centre on Milson Line have been revealed at a commissioners’ hearing on the review of Palmerston North’s District Plan, but city planners oppose the development.

Fair Investments, developer of the Clearview Park residential subdivision, hopes to develop a 3400 square-metre site at 91 Milson Line to benefit the growing residential community.

The development would back on to the Julia Wallace Retirement Village and cater for its residents.

The 1160sqm building would include up to seven ground-level tenants such as a cafe, florist, and beauty therapist, and upstairs offices.

Unlikely to be allowed while the site has residential zoning, it would most likely require a change to local business zone to be approved.

City council planners opposed the proposal.

They said it would undermine the viability of the existing Milson Line shopping centre, which could be ‘‘hollowed-out’’ if tenants were dhattracted to the new premises.

Planning consultant Christine Foster made the zone change request in a submission on proposed sectional plan change 5, on the local business zone.

She told the hearing commissioners yesterday her clients were disappointed council staff refused to include the zone change in its review of the extent and rules of the local business zones that went out for public consultation.

Fair Investments believed the shops would complement the existing shopping centre, and practically form a natural extension of it.

It would be easy for people to walk the short distance in between, and the site was vacant, available and serviced.

Ms Foster said there were many types of local convenience businesses not represented yet, and presented evidence that there was growing demand which would support an extended centre.

The current centre was full, but it was 35 years old.

Commission chairman Chris Mitchell described it as ‘‘a bit tired’’.

‘‘Looking to the future, you would wonder whether it fits the council’s idea of vibrancy, and if it does not, then irrespective of supply and demand, the way to deal with it is to make more land available and get some competition going and encourage re-investment which looks long overdue.’’

But council policy planner Daniel Batley said the Fair Investments development should not be supported.

It would detract from planning goals to achieve compact shopping centres, and undermine the economic future of what was already there.

Mr Batley said although it had been described as ‘‘rather tired’’, it functioned well and met community needs.

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The two sites would be separated by Purdie Pl, and by the Milson Combined Church, and the initial concept plans put to the hearing showed two centres designed in U-shapes, effectively turning their backs to each other.

The new centre would not be a natural extension. Rather, it would be ‘‘leap-frogging’’ across the road and the church lawn.

Mr Batley was also concerned about the fairness of allowing a zone change that was not signalled to the public in the proposed section review.

‘‘I am unsure whether or not the existing landlords and tenants at the Milson shopping centre are aware,’’ he said.

However, Ms Foster said there was plenty of case law to support consideration of a zone change sought through submissions, and Mr Mitchell agreed it was within the scope of the process.

The commissioners will consider their decision in private.

- Manawatu Standard

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