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Third attempt in consent wrangle

It remains to be seen if the latest iteration of a resource consent application that’s already been the subject of a long-running saga will placate opposition to a proposed third access point for Greytown’s supermarket.

Woolworths NZ, however, is hoping the third time’s a charm and maintains its revised application – publicly notified by South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] yesterday – adequately addresses the most contentious issues, including pedestrian safety, signage, and a copper beech tree.

Forme Planning’s April 13 application, on behalf of the supermarket giant, makes it the third attempt to establish a driveway to Fresh Choice supermarket at 134 Main St, State Highway 2 [SH2].

The application maintains the driveway would allow one-way passage for service delivery vehicles, thereby eliminating a health and safety risk from trucks manoeuvring in the carpark. An application that was “similar in scope” received consent in 2015 but was surrendered due to a “threat of judicial review”.

The latest is a revised version of an application lodged in June 2022, which faced serious community backlash and led to SWDC requesting more information.

At a meeting in August, Greytown residents expressed strong opposition to the “gaudy” Fresh Choice signage and concern that the proposed driveway would damage the root system of a copper beech tree.

“Following increased interest from the local community, the Applicant has made the decision to revise the layout of the proposal,” Forme Planning states.

Fresh Choice supermarket owner Chris Ward said last year that he was in the unfortunate position of being the meat in the sandwich between Woolworths and the public.

When contacted by the Times-Age yesterday, Ward referred all questions about the new application to Woolworths NZ.

The latest application reduces the maximum height of a Fresh Choice sign on Main St from 5.4 metres to 3.6m including the structure [“redesigned to be sensitive to special character”], and a reduction in sign area from 10.1m2 to 3.7m2.

It would also be externally rather than internally illuminated to comply with Dark Sky Management Area provisions.

Despite noting the copper beech has no legal protection, a new arborist report appears to have influenced the proposed increased space around the tree, the retention of the current white wall as opposed to a new stonewall build, and the elimination of three car parks.

Pedestrian access on the southern boundary of the driveway will also be constructed with boardwalk or gravel – materials suggested to protect the beech’s root system.

Woolworths said it would accept the condition of the copper beech retention as part of the consent and a three-year warranty replanting condition should the tree die.

The most significant change, however, is the promise of left-in only turn from service delivery vehicles, which include 23m long b-trains.

Waka Kotahi NZTA and residents said a primary concern was that b-trains from the north would create a danger to pedestrians at a crossing when queuing to turn right into the Main St access.

In September last year, NZTA said any compromising of pedestrian safety was “not acceptable”.

The current proposal states that “customers will turn both left in and right in from the development, with delivery vehicles all turning left in” – even b-trains arriving from Palmerston North.

The access would be entry-only and reduced from 9m in width to 8.3m.

An assessment from Commute Transportation Consultants states: “The new entry-only access provides excellent visibility for both pedestrians and vehicles” and “generally complies with District Plan requirements”.

Woolworths said an average of six vans, two light trucks, and 10 b-trains would deliver daily, with the supermarket generating “273 vehicles per hour [vph], and 254vph in the weekday PM and Saturday peak periods, respectively”.

Commute said the proposed design was considered acceptable and addressed Waka Kotahi’s concerns regarding visibility and safety at the pedestrian crossing.

The Times-Age has contacted SWDC planning manager James Whitham and NZTA for comment.

Submissions on the resource application close on May 23, at 4pm.

Mary Argue
Mary Argue
Mary Argue is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with an interest in justice and the region’s emergency services, regularly covering Masterton District Court, Fire and Emergency and Police.

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