Home > News > Archive > 16th January 2007

Cambridge Road shopping complex gets green light

Courtesy of Te Awamutu Courier

Concept Plan
CONCEPT PLAN for the proposed commercial development on the former Taylor and Jourdain timber yard site in Cambridge Road.

BELOW: The derelict Bilimag site as it appears currently.

Waipa District Council’s Regulatory Committee has approved a private plan change application to re-zone land at 670 Cambridge Road from residential/rural to general zone. This re-zoning, sought by Bilimag Holdings Ltd, allows for the development of a retail and commercial complex, including a new Pak’n’Save supermarket, service station, restaurant and bulk retail areas.

Waipa District Council’s deputy chief executive Garry Dyet says the outcome is a positive one for Te Awamutu.

“Te Awamutu is a growing town, and while Council is keen to protect the vibrancy and character of the town centre, we also need to provide reasonable amenities to accommodate our growth. Council was satisfied this development achieved that objective, and was consistent with our District Plan,” Mr Dyet says. “This development will increase the numbers of jobs in the town, providing a satellite retail hub of benefit to the community around it.”

The committee’s decision to approve the plan change is still subject to appeal. Although only 20 submissions were received in the proposal - two were substantial, from opposing distribution companies - National Trading Company (NTC) and General Distributors Ltd (GDL). Both companies, involved with supplying large supermarkets, are often party to the resource management process with respect to large commercial developments.

NTC was in support of the plan change and presented economic, traffic and planning witnesses to support its submission. GDL was opposed to the plan change and also presented economic, traffic and planning witnesses.

Mr Dyet says although the regulatory committee was presented with expert opinions that were directly contrary and polarised in their assessment of the plan change (including some commissioned by Council), this allowed a robust and thorough examination of the issues under consideration.

The concept plan for the development of the six hectare block (pictured above) allows for 659 carparks. It includes provision for 14 commercial units ranging in size from 200 square metres to 6000 square metres (supermarket). The plan also makes provision for a ‘non retail’ area of 2600 square metres and an outdoor bulk retail timber yard (appropriate on a site that was formerly a timber yard).

A private plan change was originally sought by Bilimag Holdings to re-zone and develop the site in early 2005. Through the submission process a number of concerns were raised in relation to traffic issues and potential impacts on the town centre and existing retail businesses. Bilimag withdrew its original plan change and re-lodged a revised plan change with less retail units and additional assessment criteria.

The existing Waipa District Plan provides objectives and policies that protect the amenity and function of the town centre. The plan change includes amendment to the District Plan and provides a context to consider retail development outside the town centres.

The committee was satisfied that the recognition and protection of the town centres is not compromised by the plan change and that there were no practicable sites in the existing commercially zoned areas to accommodate the activities proposed.

"The town centre of Te Awamutu is regarded as a significant physical resource and provides social, functional and economic benefits to the community. The committee has carefully examined the potential effects of the plan change on the amenity and function of the town centre and is satisfied that any adverse effects will be minor.”

The committee was not able to consider trade competition effects on individual existing businesses. Transit NZ originally raised concerns about traffic impacts at the intersection of Cambridge Road with the State Highway, but after the plan change was re-lodged discussions between Bilimag and Transit eased these concerns. Main reason for this was a proposal to upgrade the SH3/Cambridge Road/Arawata Street roundabout to a two lane circulating roundabout and a pedestrian refuge island on Cambridge Road.

Other concerns covered included decontamination of the former timber yard site (involving a complete dig out and removal in some parts) and limiting the height of the bulk timber storage facility to 12 metres (instead of 15 metres).

Bilimag presented a Retail Distribution Assessment (prepared by Tim Heath of Property Economics). The findings of the assessment, generally endorsed by economic analysis provided by NTC and Council’s independent report, were:

  • There is currently significant retail leakage ($63 Million) from Te Awamutu, mostly to Hamilton.
  • Future supermarket spending will only support two supermarkets, such that either the existing Woolworths or Fresh Choice Supermarket will close.
  • The large format retailing activities proposed will limit retail leakage from Te Awamutu as opposed to competing with existing town centre retailers.

The GDL analysis was contrary, claiming the retail leakage currently was overestimated, the new supermarket turnover underestimated ($52 Million rather than $46.2 Million), both current supermarkets could close, $40 Million of sales would be lost from the town centre and that a second major retail node would compromise the function of the town centre.