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Consent facing roadblocks

With a public hearing on the issue scheduled for October 2-3, South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] and Waka Kotahi have made it clear they oppose the current proposal for an accessway to Greytown’s FreshChoice.

SWDC has received a total of 82 submissions on the third iteration of Woolworth NZ’s resource application to develop a new accessway to Greytown’s FreshChoice supermarket from Main St [SH2], including one from Waka Kotahi.

In its submission, the transport agency cites several points of concern regarding pedestrian and road user safety, traffic congestion, and the impact of increased heavy loads on the road should the proposal go ahead.

Its concerns also include the condition that all larger delivery trucks would solely turn left into the driveway.

“Waka Kotahi notes that no physical works are proposed that would restrict the right turning of larger vehicles into the new access,” its submission said.

“The absence of physical prevention means there is still the opportunity for delivery drivers to turn right into the access.”

Due to this and the potential for blind spots and queuing on Main St as vehicles wait for pedestrians to pass, Waka Kotahi said the proposal does not sufficiently mitigate safety effects on the movement of pedestrians and cyclists on SH2.

After recommending that the application as submitted be declined, Waka Kotahi also stated it is “willing to work with the applicant in advance of a hearing”.

Robyn Elston, Waka Kotahi’s national manager of system design, told the Times-Age the agency has subsequently met with Woolworth NZ “about the matters we have raised in our submission” and has also “continued a dialogue via email correspondence with the applicant”.

“This allows us to make it clear to the applicant what our concerns are and clearly outline our position. It also provides an opportunity to find any alignment, where we can.”

Elston said Waka Kotahi continues to have concerns about the possible impact on the nearby pedestrian crossing, the potential for increased traffic congestion, how it may affect the safe movement of pedestrians and cyclists, and the potential for heavy vehicles to damage the road surface.

Out of the 82 submissions SWDC received on the application, three were in support, two opposed part of the proposal, and 77 were against the entire proposal.

In total, 49 people indicated that they would like to be heard at the hearing, either individually or by presenting a joint case with others who made similar points.

A SWDC report to the Resource Management Commissioner – the independent commissioner overseeing the hearing – also recommends that the proposal be refused.

The report, prepared by consultant planner Honor Clark and reviewed by SWDC planning manager Kendyll Hammond, summarises submitters’ concerns with the proposal as well as the council’s.

These include public and traffic safety, pedestrian and cyclist safety, disruption to traffic and queuing, visibility issues, and the impact of more heavy trucks on local roading infrastructure, along with stormwater management, effects on Greytown’s heritage values, and loss of parking to Main St.

The report also mentions the large copper beech tree that has become something of a protest symbol for those against the proposal.

Although the Woolworths NZ proposal maintains that the tree would be preserved, “a number of submitters are … sceptical of this, and understandably so”, the report notes, going on to observe that “if the copper beech tree was to be adversely affected by the proposal to the point that it should die, the application states that a condition of consent be included to ensure a replacement tree will be planted”.

“This again questions whether the real intention is to retain the tree or not,” the report says.

Also noted is that several submitters questioned whether Woolworth’s accessing and servicing arrangement is a real safety issue.

Both Waka Kotahi and the council report suggest an alternative solution to Woolworth’s internal car park health and safety risks would be preferable, something not addressed in the application.

In response to a number of questions from the Times-Age, a Woolworths NZ spokesperson declined to comment beyond saying the company is continuing to work through the application process and that “we look forward to hearing the different views and feedback from the community”.

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Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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