Anger at supermarket proposal

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 05:00 07/03/2014

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A David-versus-Goliath battle is brewing over the proposed Countdown supermarket in Vogeltown.

Yesterday about 30 angry neighbours packed the New Plymouth District Council chambers to speak up about the supermarket which could be going in their backyard.

Hori St, between Brooklands Rd and Carrington St, could soon be the home of New Plymouth's fourth Countdown supermarket after Brooklands Development Limited applied to NPDC for a resource consent for the proposed supermarket.

The consent is currently being processed, but only a handful of neighbours have been legally classed as being affected.

It is only those neighbours who are allowed to make a submission against the supermarket during the resource consent process.

The remaining neighbours from Brooklands Rd, Hori St and Carrington St said they have been wrongly deemed as not being affected by the proposed supermarket.

Council officers, operating under the Resource Management Act, say their hands are tied and they have only been able to select the homes that will be affected based on laws that are already in place.

Carrington St resident Rochelle West, who spoke on behalf of the disgruntled neighbours, said the group was flabbergasted that all bordering properties could not be considered by the council officers, and were therefore unable to make a submission against the supermarket.

"It is surrounded by many residential homes - all of which will undoubtedly be affected by such a development - whether from noise or increased traffic," she said.

"Yet council officers have declared only a handful of properties on Hori St and two houses on Brooklands Rd are affected by the proposal, and therefore get to make a submission.

"Those people get a say. The majority of residents surrounding the site don't."

Many properties, including her own, would look directly out onto the back of the supermarket, as well as the delivery yard, and the refrigeration and air conditioning units.

The noise from the trucks delivering goods, forklifts and the 24-hour operation of the refrigeration and air conditioning units concerned the group.

Acoustic testing, which was paid for by the developer, was done on boundaries, and the noise was expected to range between 43 and 49 decibels.

The district plan limits noise in a residential area to 50 decibels.

Ms West questioned whether the residents could be confident the expected sound levels would not exceed the district plan limit with such a tiny margin of error.

"It's not fair that we should be expected to pay for fencing to protect our standard of living through no fault of our own," she said.

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Increased traffic on Hori St had also angered the residents, fellow neighbour Richard Hales said.

People were concerned that traffic in and out of the Hori St site would be hazardous, particularly considering how close the supermarket would be to the Brooklands Rd roundabout and the Hori St hill.

"For the council to disregard completely all of the children who walk and cycle to school is unthinkable," he said.

The development site is surrounded by schools and early childhood centres, including Vogeltown School, St Pius, Highlands Intermediate, Vogeltown Playcentre and Brooklands Kindergarten.

Mr Hales said the right and opportunity of the public to have their opinions and fears heard during the resource consent hearing had been wrongfully taken away.

Councillors around the table questioned why there was nothing that could be done to help the neighbours.

Gordon Brown questioned whether council officers could get an independent report done on the noise levels.

While Mr Brown acknowledged the council officers had acted entirely by the laws that were in place he was still not happy with the outcome.

"Sometimes the law is an ass," he said.

"I have been there and had a look and I can promise you they are affected. A nightmare is soon coming their way."

The council's manager of consents, Ralph Broad, told the group the best thing they could do was talk to the neighbours who had been deemed affected and support their submissions.

- Taranaki Daily News

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