Plans to expand Countdown Regent in Whangarei are being challenged by some of its neighbours who fear the supermarket giants will ruin the appeal of their quiet street if granted consent for a new service entry.
Independent Commissioner Justine Bray heard submissions from Whangarei District Council (WDC) planners, Progressive Enterprises and one of the Wallace St residents, at a hearing last week at the May Bain Room at Whangarei Library.
WDC planners Ueli Sasagi and Vladimir Rozov had recommended granting resource consent to Progressive to extend the supermarket to construct an additional 686sq m floor space for additional produce and building over an existing car park on the eastern side by Kamo Rd.
A new carpark is proposed for the western side, bringing the total spaces to 185, with site access from Wallace St, where Progressive would demolish two dwellings it owned.
Progressive wanted to retain the existing loading dock on the northern side but change entry by creating service vehicle only entry from Wallace St, which would exit on Kamo Rd.
The service lane entry would also have a security gate and fencing, while the western side and unloading area would have additional parking and a 2m high solid wall.
A dedicated pedestrian pathway into the site from Wallace St was also proposed.
While Countdown was zoned under Business 3 Environment in the District Plan, the Wallace St extensions were zoned Living 1 and 2 - residential zoning which prohibited commercial activity.
However, only the residents of 1A, 1B and 3 Wallace St were notified of the plan as they were "adversely affected in a minor way", according to the planners' report.
One of those, Marilyn Andela, opposed the plans and was granted a hearing. She was concerned about the lack of clarity around the volume of commercial traffic that would use the Wallace St entrance, as well as the noise.
She submitted 23 signed letters from 17 residents of Wallace St and 6 from Dinnis Ave, who said they would be impacted by the Wallace St service entrance plans, despite not being invited to have a say on the plan.
Ms Andela queried if it was wise to grant consent for "discretionary activities" in the Living 1 and 2 zones, such as allowing truck deliveries before 8am and after 6pm, constructing a 2.7 metre fence (despite a 2m restriction) and permitting more than 200 vehicle movements a day, despite a zone limit of 30 traffic movements in any 24-hour period.
Ms Andela said she surveyed the trucks and found, that in a 40 day period, there were trucks on site before 7am on 34 days.
Traffic consultant Donald McKenzie said the proposed development of the site would see "less than minor adverse effects to the function, capacity or safety of the surrounding road network".
Planning consultant for Progressive, Jane Douglas, said the company had earlier asked WDC planners about the possible need for rezoning the residential land parcel for commercial development, but were told by staff that the resource consent process would be sufficient.
She said the proposed expansion was an efficient use of land resource and a logical progression of growth, which would improve convenience for customers.
Ms Bray has reserved her decision until after considering Progressive's right of reply in writing.