Supermarket expansion assurances sought

Cromwell’s New World supermarket is proposing to expand on to the Waenga Dr greenway reserve....
Cromwell’s New World supermarket is proposing to expand on to the Waenga Dr greenway reserve. PHOTO: MARJORIE COOK
The path is not yet clear for the $7 million expansion of the New World supermarket on to a public reserve in Cromwell’s town centre.

Submitters this week sought assurances from a hearings panel that their concerns about losing reserve space would be addressed and undertakings offered by Foodstuffs South Island would be implemented.

The panel has adjourned its consideration of a proposal to revoke part of the Waenga Dr reserve so Foodstuffs can have time to provide more information and assurances.

Foodstuffs’ deadline is September 24.

Panel chairman Neil Gillespie said he and fellow panel members Stephen Jeffery and Martin McPherson would reconvene in public on October 5 to discuss what to recommend to the Central Otago District Council.

The council will consider the matter on November 3.

Last year, it decided - with the support of the Cromwell Community Board - to conditionally sell part of the reserve to Foodstuffs.

The process also needs sign-off from the Minister of Conservation.

Council staff Gordon Bailey and Louise Van der Voort have advised the panel their preferred option is to partially revoke the reserve’s status.

Public consultation drew eight opposers and four supporters.

After hearing their evidence, the staff said their recommendation had not changed.

The Waenga Dr greenway is part of a large open space network set aside nearly 40 years ago to link pedestrians and cyclists to the town centre.

If the reserve’s status was changed, Foodstuffs would still need resource consent to begin the 12-month build.

The council’s sale agreement is for a confidential price and subject to several conditions, including this week’s public hearing.

Stephen Carruth argued there had been predetermination, lack of impartiality and a flawed process.

Murray Petrie raised development concerns such as noise, traffic, fencing and pollution, while Irene and Dave Wallace said greenway neighbours had not been consulted adequately.

Katie Lindsay said Cromwell’s special green spaces should not be sold "now or ever" and Foodstuffs should buy land somewhere else.

"This is public land sale for the non-necessary expansion of a private commercial enterprise so they can increase profits ... I urge you to tread very carefully here. If you choose to approve you are taking green space away from our community," Ms Lindsay said.

Foodstuffs’ lawyer, Alex Brooker, said there was limited space to expand the supermarket in the town centre because of three road frontages (Waenga Dr, Murray Tce and Elspeth St).

Relocation options were explored and found to be unviable. The remainder of the greenway would still serve its purpose and ratepayers would be saved the cost of renewing paths, lighting, irrigation and planting, he said.

Mr Bailey and Ms van der Voort said revoking reserves’ status was an emotive matter and could be viewed negatively, but there could be legal implications for backing out of the sale agreement now.

The sale would promote community wellbeing and allow businesses to reconfigure for growth, they said.

The case should not set a precedent for selling other reserves, they said.

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