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Development to lift town

By Emily Norman

[email protected]

An area once destined to be a carpark could be the answer to filling a much-needed retail gap in Featherston.

Wairarapa Property Developer Marcus Darley has a grand vision for the section of land he has just purchased, between Featherston’s supermarket car park and the new town square.

He and his business partners intend to design and build a “smart” retail, hospitality and possibly accommodation complex on the section.

“My business partners and I really want to see the South Wairarapa region continue to grow,” he said.

“We especially think that Featherston will benefit from this new development and we’ll make sure we have a diverse range of businesses in there which look great and work well with existing Featherston businesses, so it’s a win-win for the whole town.”

Mr Darley said he would like for the complex to attract a “different and unique” range of retail and hospitality tenants and business concepts that would enhance the town and benefit the residents.

“Perhaps a florist, clothing, books, antiques, artisan foods, cafe, wine bar, restaurant etc. to complement the current interesting choices of retail at the southern end of Featherston”.

South Wairarapa Mayor Adrienne Staples said council had been told for “a long time” that more retail opportunity was needed in Featherston.

“This development will provide exactly that – and that’s what people have been calling for,” she said.

“The land has been sold to somebody who wants to do a quality development, so therefore it’s going to lift that whole area of town and fill a much-needed gap.”

She said the commercial development was a great outcome of the land swap between council and Trust House a few years ago.

“We copped a lot of flak over that land swap,” she said.

“If it had remained in Trust House’s ownership, they were going to make it into a carpark.

“What could have been just a vast area of tarmac we now have a great town square and an exciting new commercial development.

“I think that’s a great outcome.”

Marcus Darley has bought the site next to the new Featherston Town Square to develop into a retail centre. PHOTO/HAYLEY GASTMEIER
Marcus Darley has bought the site next to the new Featherston Town Square to develop into a retail centre. PHOTO/HAYLEY GASTMEIER

The empty site, where Chung’s Supermarket was demolished in 2010, had in the past been dubbed “the shingle pit” by some of the town’s residents.

South Wairarapa District Council CEO, Paul Crimp, said the council was pleased to be able to sell the land to an “entrepreneurial local”.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the development progress; this is a good sign how things continue to move forward in Featherston,” he said.

“We have a lot of smart and creative people over here that are passionate about the district and have a long term vision of how it can be enhanced.”


  1. Congratulations & good luck with your the new development – the residents of the Waiarapa are fortunate to have you both with the foresight , style & ambition to develop a project that will not only enhance the area but also bring character & benefits both to the residents & visitors.
    Having enjoyed your creative residential & commercial style & design over the past years in Wellington & the Waiarapa- this will be ‘another development of creative imagination & class – first class plus all the way!
    Cheers, Jim

  2. Physically, I would like to see spaces that are open and inviting with a real emphasis on outdoor areas that are modern, green and with a true rural feel. Celebrate being a country town.
    Secondly, don’t try and compete with what’s in Greytown- make the businesses enhance and complement what Greytown offers and also have Really unique & quality items.
    Accomodation of sort is imperative.

  3. Excellent news, from someone with vision. This should put end to anyone needing to rent one of the dilapidated buildings, which have been such a sad look to the town. Time to pull them down , once this new development is successful. Congratulations Marcus

Comments are closed.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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