Friday, 7 October 2011

Community letter to The Warehouse

 7th October 2011

Mark Powell
Group Chief Executive Officer
The Warehouse Group Limited
26 The Warehouse Way
Also sent by email via:

Dear Mr Powell,
RE:  Pah Rd Warehouse development, Royal Oak
We, the undersigned, are writing to raise the extensive community concerns about the development of a “The Warehouse” store on Pah Rd in Royal Oak.  We want you to understand our concerns, and to take on board our suggestions for mitigating the effect of the development on our community. We hope that now that the legal process around resource consents is complete, The Warehouse will be open to a productive conversation with the community.  For the store, and accompanying tenancies, to succeed, it would be helpful to work with the community as much as possible.  We write in hope of beginning that dialogue.
This letter will outline the key concerns and questions that the community has communicated to date.  
We would like to invite representatives from The Warehouse to attend a community meeting in the Royal Oak area in October or November to have a dialogue with the community, by specifically responding to the following points:
1. Areas of concern
Many people have identified concerns relating to the Pah Rd site being an inappropriate place for big box retail.  While this remains the view of some of those who are signatories to this letter, as the development is now consented and highly likely to proceed, we are focusing on concerns that can be addressed by how The Warehouse chooses to develop their store and associated tenancies and facilities such as carparks.
1.1.             Traffic
Mt Albert Rd and Pah Rd are currently very busy arterial routes.  The intersection of the two streets is already problematic.  It was scheduled for review by Auckland Transport, however due to the Warehouse development that has been delayed, pending the completion of construction.  The Warehouse’s plans rely on some changes to the road layouts of Pah and Mt Albert Rds, to allow for dedicated turning lanes into and out of the 100 Pah Rd site.  Given the mode of transport for the Warehouse’s customer base is  acknowledged to be largely by private car, it seems likely that traffic on these roads will increase once the Warehouse is open, in addition to an increase in truck traffic during construction. 
1.2.             Parking
On-street parking is already at a premium in the area, particularly during sports events at Seymour Park.  With Auckland Transport introducing clearways on Pah Rd this is only likely to be exacerbated in the near future.  In addition local residents have expressed particular concern about where staff for the Warehouse will park once it is operational, as the number of parks the Warehouse indicated it would put aside for staff does not seem sufficient for the number of staff likely to be working in the building, let alone the associated tenancies. 
1.3.             Noise, dust & rubbish
These are particularly concerns during construction.   Locals report a problem with dust at the moment, since the site has been levelled for construction.  Additionally there are concerns about the possibilities for unintended use of the carpark while the shops are closed, creating noise and rubbish for the neighbourhood.  An example of such unintended use might be for “burn outs” or similar gatherings inappropriate to the residential surrounds.
1.4.             Impact on Royal Oak Town Centre
While the commissioners found that the 100 Pah Rd site forms part of the town centre, there will be significant difficulties integrating the site into the existing town centre, especially in relation to crossing Mt Albert Rd.  It seems likely that shoppers visiting the Warehouse will drive there, possibly even from the Royal Oak shops, and may indeed by-pass the existing town centre as a result. 
1.5.             Impact on Seymour Park
The parking aspect has been addressed above, however there remain concerns about the flooding impact on Seymour Park from having a large site directly across the road effectively sealed over. 
1.6.             Visual impact
Concerns have been raised regarding the monolithic, and often brightly coloured, appearance of Warehouse stores and signage.  This has been a particular worry for those interested in protecting and enhancing the view from Monte Cecilia Park and the Pah Homestead.  The Sanitarium buildings next door are currently painted in a colour scheme that does somewhat lessen the visual impact of the factory on the environment. 
2.        Questions:
2.1          What is the planned building timetable?
2.2          What intentions does The Warehouse have around letting the associated tenancies on the same site?
2.3          What measures, if any, will The Warehouse undertake to encourage the use of other modes of transport, besides private cars, by staff and customers?
2.4          How does The Warehouse intend to integrate the new development with the Royal Oak town centre?
2.5          What measures, if any, is The Warehouse taking with the development of the site to minimise the lifting of flooding levels in surrounding sites, in particular at Seymour Park’s sportsgrounds?
2.6          How does The Warehouse intend to monitor noise and dust levels, particularly during construction, and at what levels will the Warehouse take actions to decrease the noise and dust levels?
2.7          What will the final development look like?  We would appreciate the community being provided with a copy of a mock-up of what the Warehouse development could look like from the Pah Rd frontage, the Mt Albert Rd frontage, and looking down over it from Pah Homestead.
2.8          Will the Warehouse establish a Liaison Group with the local community, in a similar model to the group operated with Sanitarium and local residents, to allow an avenue to raise future concerns and seek to have them addressed?

In closing, we would appreciate contact from The Warehouse acknowledging receipt of this letter, and indicating when in October or November we could arrange a community meeting to hear your response to these concerns and questions. 
Please contact Julie Fairey on 021 287 9900 or in the first instance.
We look forward to your response.
Yours truly,
Suresh Rama, Garth Houltham, Anna Kofoed, Julie Fairey, Dr Jackie Blue MP, Mike & Glenda Williams, David Christensen, Michael Wood, Sharon Coyle, Jenny Goddard,  and Carol Beaumont MP.
On behalf of concerned community members