GOLOCAL

The green light's been given for Bunnings Warehouse to build a new store in Whanganui.

Whanganui District Council planning manager Hamish Lampp said the council has granted resource consent to Bunnings to develop a large-format retail store in London St next to the BP service station.

In January 2019, Bunnings said if its plans were approved the new warehouse would cost more than $19 million and span 8400-plus square metres, making it well over double the size of the current "smaller format" store in Ridgway St. All team members at the current Whanganui store would transfer to the new warehouse and be joined by more than 50 new team members.

This week Bunnings New Zealand director Jacqui Coombes said now that resource consent has been granted the company will review next steps and timings on the project "and will update the community as things progress".

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She did not respond to questions about whether the size of the project and staff numbers would be the same as signalled last year.

The go-ahead for the development comes as Bunnings proposes closing seven of its New Zealand stores, including four smaller format ones, because they are unviable. Last year three smaller format stores were closed.

The resource consent for the site includes conditions relating to the soil which contains arsenic.

In 2018 Whanganui's ecoBuild Developments was forced to shelve its planned subdivision on the land when arsenic levels found in the soil were too high for residential use. However, other uses of the land were possible.

The resource consent application was supported by a detailed contamination report that concluded soil conditions were not at a level that posed a risk to human health in land used for commercial development," Lampp said.

"Any soil disturbance that might occur during construction work is required to be managed under a site management plan to ensure the safe transport and disposal of contaminants."