Farmers store plan misses the bus station
A proposal to build a new Farmers store on city council-owned Wakatu Square has ignored the impact on Nelson bus services.
Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio said today Farmers had made it clear it did not want to lose the bus station, which would bring in a stream of people to the area.
However, Suburban Bus Line Group has been left in the dark about what impact the development will have on the bus operations in the area.
Managing director Tony Cumming said the company had received a letter from the council yesterday drawing its attention to the council's potential sale of land for commercial development.
The council announced last week that it planned to sell off most of the Wakatu Square car park area for $2 million to Auckland developer Windermere Holdings to build a 6000-square-metre two-storey building for Farmers and six smaller retailers.
An outline in the proposal for the 3056sqm land for sale shows it will take up the bulk of Wakatu Square, right up to Wakatu Lane, where the city's NBus service stops, and leaving the the bus company wondering about access to the bus station.
"It certainly has the potential to impact on the local services," said Mr Cumming. "We have to look at the accessibility to our property and the impact any change may have."
The proposal put out to the public for one month's consultation was purely a developer's plan, said Mr Cumming. "There is going to be some challenges attached to the proposal."
Nelson SBL Holdings owns the bus depot and building that border Wakatu Square.
The bus station is used by InterCity buses, Abel Tasman Coachlines, SBL, NBus and school bus services. "There is quite a bit of interchange," said Mr Cumming. "It certainly will need modification and there will be some challenges. It will need quite a bit of thinking through."
Mr Cumming said he had not had any conversation with the developer. "I would have thought it would have been wise to talk to the businesses in the region before drawing up a proposal if you want it to go through. That way you may have put together something that suits all. I am confident this does not."
Mr Miccio said the intention was to retain the bus station where it was. "Farmers would like to see it stay because of the extra foot traffic it brings."
Issues such as bus turning would be subject to traffic engineering reports once the company applied for resource consent, he said. The council was not the developer, and the land buyer would need to seek resource consent for the development, he said.
There was no plan to move the bus depot, said Mr Miccio.
If that had to happen it was unlikely the development would get resource consent, he said.
The size of the proposed store is also causing concern.
Mr Cumming said: "As a property owner we have concerns about the visual impact a big two-storey wall opposite us and the impact of shading will have on the Wakatu Lane area. We will obviously have daylight issues.
Its tenant, Sprog Hog Kidz store, is also worried about the height of the building, and Don Harris, who owns Korker Sandal Company, by Wakatu Lane, is also unhappy.
They are not the only ones concerned about the impact of the proposed development.
Mr Miccio said feedback he had received from retailers was evenly split between those for and against it.
"We do understand there is a lot of anxiety and concern," he said.
Some of that was because of the unknown about what would happen to the two sites on Trafalgar St and Bridge St that Farmers would vacate when it moved into the new store.
"Our belief is that there will be something as good or better go into the existing Farmers store," said Mr Miccio.
It could open up the window display area Farmers occupied on Trafalgar St to be more attractive, with more products, and there was potential for a food court, he said.
He believed the Wakatu Square development would increase the number of shoppers in town. The one-month public consultation was an extra step in the process the council did not have to provide.
"We thought it best to have this month to get as much feedback as possible," he said.
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