Westfield NZ's $250 million expansion plans for Newmarket have some locals worried.
Robin Bailey, president of the Newmarket Protection Society, said his organisation was concerned that the mall's growth would put pressure on already congested streets.
Planning applications, considered on a non-notified basis, meant those who wanted to raise issues had no say in the process, he said.
Todd Male of Route 66 questioned why Westfield would expand malls in Newmarket and St Lukes. He praised the new, more shopper-friendly retail precinct behind Broadway on Osborne St, Kent St and Teed St.
"Westfield is just going to build another big concrete edifice in Newmarket and it's the wrong thing," Male said, adding that Newmarket needed more green space.
"Westfield always says New Zealand lags behind Australia and the United States in terms of malls per population. But who cares? Auckland needs more shops like Ponsonby and the Britomart, which are not malls."
Last week's statement from Westfield made little mention of the 277 site where its mall is now, instead emphasising plans for neighbouring 309 Broadway, where Farmers
Justin Lynch, Westfield NZ director, said his company had met retailers to discuss plans for 309 Broadway.
Westfield has been gradually moving towards preparing the Farmers site for building and, two years ago, roading appeared to be its biggest issue: first, how to get shoppers easily from the 277 site to 309 Broadway, then what to do about an inconveniently situated street which blocked flow on its site.
So, in 2009, Auckland City approved its purchase of Coventry Lane, the small no-exit service lane off Mortimer Pass, and also approved the air bridge to link 277 to 309 above Mortimer Pass.
Westfield's head offices in New Zealand are above the mall and it owns shops on nearby Nuffield St, an outdoor-mall area on a traditional strip and an experiment for the retailer in this country.
Last decade Westfield got consent to redevelop both 277 and the neighbouring Farmers site beneath the motorway, planning a multiplex cinema, shops, the airbridge and extensive stacked carparking beneath the Newmarket Viaduct motorway flyover.
Contractors demolished many buildings in the 277 block bounded by Mortimer Pass, Gillies Ave and Morrow St, but left the site idle ever since and many people forgot about the plans and thought Westfield might have shelved them.
Ashley Church, general manager of the Newmarket Business Association, welcomed the developments
"I wasn't at the presentation by Westfield but it was in the nature of the opportunity for them to talk to potential tenants of the new shops. They will be re-accommodating Farmers, which is a no-brainer," Church said.
"But it's been well-signalled for a number of years so there's no surprise in what's taking place, and we welcome the fact that it will enhance the community because 277 is an important part of our business community, and anything they do about expanding their presence we cautiously
Today Westfield opens Stratford City, Europe's largest urban shopping centre with 300 shops, cinemas, and a casino in east London.
The 1.45 billion ($2.8 billion) project, dubbed by the Daily Mail as a "shiny minicity of chrome and carrier bags", has 177,000sq m of floorspace and 5000 carparks.
A John Lewis department store in the mall is 22,000sq m, almost as big as the entire 277 in Newmarket.
About 10,000 people work at the new mall which has a 14-lane bowling alley, 300 shops and 70 bars and restaurants, 17-screen 3D Vue cinema complex, and an asphalt and membrane roof, which at 70,000sq m is enough to cover about 10 football fields.
* 31,449sq m mall.
* 120 shops.
* 1121 carparks.
* $128.9m annual turnover.
* 403,290 trade area population.
Plans for 309 Broadway
* $250m construction job.
* Four-level building.
* 95 new shops to be built.
* New Farmers of almost 1ha.
* Multiplex cinemas on level four.
* 1400 carparks to ease pressure.
* Glass airbridge over street.
* NZ's biggest new retail build.