Back Auckland's Arch Hill residents in deal with Bunnings

Date: 16 February 2015

Arch Hill residents have won concessions from big-box retailer Bunnings in an attempt to minimise the effects of the controversial new store on their Auckland neighbourhood. 

Nearby houses will be checked for structural damage from the building work, summer trading hours will be limited, loud speaker use will be controlled and traffic slowed by a proposed raised roadway to soften the mega-store's arrival.

Actor Tandi Wright and television celebrity Jesse Mulligan spoke out against the chain's plans after the neighbourhood expressed fears about child safety, noise, pollution, construction, traffic and parking.

The Arch Hill Residents Society and the DIY chain hammered out the deal whereby the quiet neighbourhood of old wooden houses near Grey Lynn gets some protection from the store and its busy operations at 272-276, 300 and 302 Great North Rd between Bond St, King St and Dean St.

Residents rallied against the scheme which will now rise opposite tiny worker cottages and the St James Kindergarten but independent planning commissioners granted permission, so the residents and neighbours went to the Environment Court.

No hearing was held but mediation there resulted in the deal.

Many concessions were won.

All Bunnings staff must park in internal car parks so they do not clog up surrounding streets where residents and their visitors park. Commissioners heard of detailed survey results which society members carried out at other Bunnings stores to ascertain exactly where staff parked.

In an attempt to shield residents of the quiet Dean St, Bunnings has agreed to build a big wall along that street as the first phase of construction.

Dean St will also become a residential cul-de-sac so that all truck movements are internalised with entry and exit via King St - residents were particularly worried about large delivery trucks and the effects on the neighbourhood, as well as the many shopper customer cars which will now be in their area.

Bunnings estimated around 2000 cars and 40 trucks will visit the new store daily.

A proposal is for the creation of a raised section of roadway on King St directly above Dean St to slow traffic. That is to address the issues of traffic safety, although Auckland Transport must agreed to the proposal before it can be built. The retailer further agreed to surveys of adjacent houses before and after building to ascertain if there has been any structural damage attributable to construction activity. Bunnings must deal with any effects of construction dust on the houses and has agreed to cleaning.

Restrictions on building work on Sundays or public holidays are agreed to.

Bunnings must develop a venting system for trucks entering its inwards goods access area. The effect of that is that truck exhaust fumes will be vented through the new Bunnings and out on to Great North Rd, not into the residential area.

Bunnings has also agreed to controls on the operation of outdoor area speaker systems.

Bunnings will cut its length and duration of proposed summer hours.

An inwards goods management plan, to control truck queues in King St and surrounding streets, has also been agreed to.

Bunnings will donate a selection of tools to Newton Central School for community use at nominal hire and will provide community-focused DIY courses.

Demolition of existing buildings on the site will begin soon and Ward Demolition has won the contract.

Representatives of Bunnings met society members last month to update them on progress and a Ward rep was also at the meeting, an association member said.

The plan for the demolition has been presented to the association and that includes information on asbestos removal.

One association member said people in the area remained generally unhappy about the situation.

"But there's a sense of inevitability about it all," he said.

"Our issue has always been with the Auckland Council processes which allowed this because Bunnings had a go and won."

Big box battle

• Bunnings Arch Hill about to be built.

• Arch Hill Residents Society opposed it.

• Parties underwent five months of mediation.

• Many new conditions now agreed.

- NZ Herald Anne Gibson.

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