Big-box bonanza

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Aussie hardware giant Bunnings plans to build one of Queenstown’s largest big-box stores.

Bunnings New Zealand general manager Jacqui Coombes confirms the company’s lodged a development application for a Bunnings Warehouse.

“The new store will offer the widest range of home improvement and outdoor living products,” she says.

The Frankton Flats store, fronting State Highway 6, will be on a 1.62 hectare site currently occupied by Shotover Garden Centre, Erik’s Fish & Chips food truck and a house.

According to the planning application to Queenstown’s council, Bunnings Ltd is seeking approval for an 8119 square metre store.

It will be broken into a main warehouse building, timber trade sales area, outdoor nursery, and a building materials and landscape yard.

There’ll be 134 carparks.

The only other local store of this size is 8000sq m hardware retailer Mitre 10 Mega, about 150 metres away.

It opened 18 months ago.

Bunnings Ltd, going by the planner’s report, is trying hard to reduce its visibility from the highway.

Along the front there’ll be a one metre-high earth bund, planted in specimen trees and ground cover.

Immediately behind will be the landscaped carpark and a “lower-height” outdoor nursery.

The height only increases to a maximum 12m about 65m back from the highway.

Three corporate-green Bun-nings signs will be visible, “however no more than two will be able to be viewed at a time”.

They’ll also be set back about 40m.

Otherwise, the company’s using more neutral colours and materials which it says won’t detract from the landscape.

In outlining the development’s “positive effects”, the planner says the community will benefit from Bunnings NZ’s national pricing policy, and increased competition.

“The activity will be a new employer in the district both during construction and when fully operational.

“Warehouses of this size often employ approximately 50-60 staff, being a mix of full-time and part-time employees.”

Bunnings will also help grow the construction sector, the report claims, “and will contribute to lowering the costs of construction, which in turn will assist in delivering more affordable housing, among other projects”.

It reveals, however, that Queenstown’s council “has raised concerns” during pre-application discussion about another non-industrial use occupying limited industrially-zoned land.

The planner, however, quotes a report that “categorises [Bunnings] as, in many ways, akin to an industrial activity”.

There’s also reference to state highway manager NZ Transport Agency having concerns over customer access off SH6.

“The applicant is continuing to consult with the Transport Agency on the matter.”

If approved, this will be the South Island’s sixth Bunnings Warehouse – the nearest is in Dunedin.

Meanwhile, a proposed 24-hour petrol station next door, by SH6’s intersection with Hawthorne Drive, has recently been approved by the council.

scoop@scene.co.nz