Council accused of kowtowing to big business

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The No Parking lines that have appeared in Kaitaia's North Park Drive are seen by developer Wayne Brown as evidence of one rule for big business, another for the locals.
The No Parking lines that have appeared in Kaitaia's North Park Drive are seen by developer Wayne Brown as evidence of one rule for big business, another for the locals.

Property developer Wayne Brown has accused the Far North District Council of doing big business a favour, at the expense of locally-owned firms in Kaitaia.

Mr Brown was deeply unimpressed to see yellow No Parking lines had been painted on the southern side of North Park Drive, now home to McCarthny Mitre 10, Folders and ITM on one side, The Warehouse and Noel Leeming on the other.

The lines, which prohibit parking on one side of the road the full length of The Warehouse property from the intersection with SH1/North Road, were approved by the council, he said, so delivery trucks could have guaranteed access without congesting the street.

Approval had been given without consultation with him, or the locally-owned businesses opposite The Warehouse, while the council did not recognise that parallel street parking had any value for those businesses.

The Warehouse development had originally included, with council approval, the provision of an 80m by 20m strip on the southern boundary of the subdivision designed to give trucks access to the rear of the store.

"We wrote to the council, pointing out that we were made to provide a road designed to meet the requirements of two-lane driving plus parallel parking on each side, and we were happy to, as lots of street parking is a big pull to our subdivision," Mr Brown said.

"Clearly the council made some blues when they approved The Warehouse. Firstly, nobody who will be affected was consulted, and given the sudden disappearance of all that street parking some people clearly are affected, including the neighbouring tenants, us as owners of the remaining land and the general public of Kaitaia.

"We had to consult every resident in Donald Lane, and now The Warehouse is allowed to take away all that street parking without a word to anyone.

"It seems that there is one rule for big business and another for the locals. If the council is going to do anyone any favours, surely it should be supporting locally-owned businesses, like Mitre 10 and Folders, not big box stores that aren't owned here."

Meanwhile a request to meet the council to discuss the loss of parking, and seeking to have it reinstated or to be recompensed, hadn't got far.

A council lawyer had told Mr Brown's company lawyer that North Park Drive had been vested in the council to administer as the council saw fit.

It believed the action taken was fair and reasonable, and a good solution to mitigating the "adverse effects of traffic generated by The Warehouse and Noel Leeming store."

The only means of challenging the decision would be a judicial review.

Meanwhile the businesses in North Park Drive were obliged to provide on-site parking, and the council did not see that road-side parking had value.

The sites were big enough to provide parking, had the developer not chosen to "absolutely max out their building size on every occasion."

Mr Brown said the council's view that it could use the road as it saw fit might be legally correct, but was a long way from seeing the public as customers, or even as citizens.

"That a nationally-owned business like The Warehouse can get away with things that locally-owned businesses can't is outrageous, and I doubt that many elected officials would support it," he said.

"The nonsense about adverse effects of traffic is just an excuse for a council cock-up. The Warehouse deserves no special traffic treatment compared to Mitre 10, Folders, ITM etc, all of which have more large trucks arriving than The Warehouse, which already had a rear truck access, as insisted on by council at the time of subdivision.

"The statement that roadside parking has no (value) will be news to all those businesses relying on roadside parking, and raises questions as to why anyone would build a road capable of providing it," he added.

"And blaming developers for wanting to maximise the use of their land shows just how out of touch council staff have become. Land is costly, and nobody wants to waste it.

"The Warehouse has got away with having to put in a service road that would have completely done away with any supposed need for the turning lane that has removed all those carparks.

They get a special turning lane, remove competitor carparks, and don't have to pay for the truck access that they were supposed to need in the first place."

Had room for parallel parking not been required development costs would have been reduced by as much as $200,000.

- Northland Age

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