Bunnings is allowed to build a warehouse retail outlet in Queenstown, after the Environment Court overturned rejection of the scheme by independent hearing commissioners appointed by the Queenstown Lakes District Council.

The court has just issued its decision which gives the big Australian-headquartered business the opportunity to develop its first store in the tourist mecca.

In April 2017, Bunnings applied to the council for resource consent to build the store on a 1.6ha site on State Highway 6 at 148-150 Frankton-Ladies Mile Highway. But commissioners declined that last March, so Bunnings appealed it in the Environment Court.

A very large warehouse, plant nursery, timber trade sales yard, space for building and landscaping materials and parking are planned on the prominent site. Bunnings will build a warehouse of 8100sq m and the court said the site was on the Frankton Flats, "the principal gateway to the Queenstown urban area."

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Bunnings said the site was ideal to serve the currently booming Queenstown construction and trade supply market.

There was "exponential" demand for housing in Queenstown and Bunnings' national pricing policy and lowest-cost guarantee would increase competition in the market.

That would therefore lower the cost of housing in the area, Bunnings argued. The land was also near the existing industrial area and that would help the business to supply trade goods.

Bunnings said Mitre 10 MEGA, PlaceMakers and Pak'nSave were also established on the Frankton Flats, within 1km of its site. A number of resource consents had been granted for non-complying retail activities in the area.

That area was also in a state of development and urbanisation with many commercial, retail and light industrial buildings either finished, under construction or about to start, Bunnings argued.

But the decision noted how since its initial application, Bunnings had also re-designed its proposal to fit more into the surrounding area and contribute to Queenstown's gateway.

Site layout, landscaping, materials and colours were now all taken into account.

The new building would not be the standard Bunnings Warehouse and signage and building orientation had also been changed, the decision said.

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The judges expressed concern that the council witnesses had only focused on industrial land supply and did not take into account commercial land.

The decision cancels the council's decision and grants resource consent, subject to conditions.

Bunnings New Zealand will spend $350m in the next five years, unveil self-service checkouts, and open its largest new store at Auckland's Westgate where construction is under way after long delays.

Toby Lawrance, NZ general manager, revealed plans for the big-box warehouse-style DIY chain, saying two new stores were under construction, others were planned and being refitted or upgraded, and customer experience would soon change with scan-and-go checkouts.

"Aspirations for us in the next two to three years are $175m of work but over five years, another $175m, making it around $350m and creating about 1200 new jobs.

"We're building new stores at Westgate and Christchurch Airport and hope to start soon in Queenstown.

"Self-checkouts will be introduced soon for big stores like Manukau and Botany.
"People think it's putting staff out of jobs. But it's around efficiencies and team members can be redeployed, doing something else.

"All new stores will eventually be self-checkout to enhance the customer experience. Then, we would run a retrospective programme in existing stores," he said.

Bunnings NZ has 55 stores - 22 Bunnings Warehouse premises, 20 smaller-format stores and eight trade centres. Australasian operations made A$6.9b ($7.19b) revenue for the half-year to December 31, 2018, up 5.2 per cent on the previous A$6.5b.