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Progressive Enterprises Appeals E. Court Decision

Progressive Enterprises Appeals Environment Court Decision on Wairau Park, which ‘threatens NZ’s planning framework’

Progressive Enterprises is appealing the Environment Court’s decision to allow a ‘big box’ supermarket to open in Wairau Park – an area that is not envisaged for that use under the District Plan. Progressive also will be seeking a stay that would prevent the supermarket from opening before the appeal is resolved.

“If Councils don’t feel obliged to uphold their own District Plans, then the whole planning framework in New Zealand could fall into disarray. If this decision were allowed to stand, it would mean that District Plans might not be worth the paper they are written on. We simply cannot allow the precedent to go untested,” said Adrian Walker, General Manager Property, with Progressive Enterprises.

Progressive has worked closely with dozens of Councils to adhere to their District Plans, investing tens of millions of dollars in supermarkets that help town centres remain well-serviced and vibrant.

“We planned to invest more than $100 million in coming years on supermarkets in town centres. But if anyone can build big box stores on cheap land in out-of-zone areas, we would have to rethink our business model. So would other businesses, and that would not bode well for our town centres,” he said.

Three other courts have previously declined proposals for a supermarket on the Wairau Park site:
• The Environment Court in setting the District Plan framework.
• The Environment Court in considering a previous resource consent application for a similar proposal.
• The High Court in judicially reviewing the Council's decision to grant consent on a non-notified basis for a similar proposal.
All three courts identified their concerns about the proposal’s negative impacts on the North Shore’s town centres, local traffic network, and the objectives and policies of the District Plan.
On two previous occasions, both the North Shore City Council and the Environment Court rejected proposals to enable a supermarket to be built at this location because of the adverse environmental effects (including traffic) of the proposed development.

If allowed to stand, the recent decision could create a precedent that leads to ever worsening traffic congestion and less use of public transport.

The Environment Court accepted that allowing this big box retail store to open in Wairau Park would:

• create a 20% increase in traffic delays at the Tristram Avenue/Wairau Road intersection (during peak afternoon hours)
• increase the average length of the traffic queue at the intersection from 220 metres to 390 metres (during peak afternoon hours);

Notwithstanding this, the Court ignored the obvious implications that this would attract other big box retailers to the area rather than the office buildings and use of public transport envisaged by the District Plan.

In addition to appealing the Environment Court decision, Progressive also disputes claims by some interested parties that this case was solely about competition.

“We believe in competition. We welcome competition, just so long as it’s on a level playing field and the goalposts are not moved on us. We are committed to delivering value, range and competitive prices to our customers on the North Shore and elsewhere in New Zealand. And judging by an independent consumer magazine’s most recent survey of a basket of 15 grocery staples, we are doing that very well – our Auckland stores were the cheapest,” he added.

ENDS

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