Resource consent for up to four years has been granted for the Smiths Ashburton (Smiths City) tenancy at the former Bunnings building at 363 West Street.
Building owner Tricroft Properties Ltd applied for resource consent for its tenant because the premises did not comply with Ashburton District Council’s new Plan Change 4 which has effectively removed “retail’ from the limited commercial activities in the Business C zoned area.
The plan change was done to give priority to the development of retail in the town centre (Business A) and in in response to a number of large scale resource consents granted outside of it, including the Kmart consent granted nearly two years ago.
In his decision, released earlier this week, commissioner Ken Fletcher acknowledged the Ashburton CBD was in a state of decline, and growth in retail over the past decade had been in the adjoining large format retail zone.
He said he would have declined the resource consent application had it not been for some unique circumstances. They included the current lack of any large sites available for Smiths Ashburton in Business A or B, the timing of the application, which coincided with the Plan Change 4 process, and the fact that the plan change had not had time to work within the market to accommodate the retailer in the Business A zone.
He said a four-year duration consent gave Smiths Ashburton, Tricroft and the market time “to work within the provisions of the post-Plan Change 4 plan to put together a suitable redevelopment within the Business A or B zones”.
Such a redevelopment would reinforce and strengthen the town centre and enhance the amenity of the town, Mr Fletcher said.
Tricroft general manager Tony Gilbert said Tricroft was disappointed with the resource consent application decision.
“We were hoping for a decision that aligns with and supports the long term aspirations of Smiths Ashburton in Mid Canterbury. We will take our time to explore our options,he said.
The resource consent decision comes with landscaping, lighting and transportation conditions.
Smiths Ashburton has been operating out of the West Street location since May, pending the decision of the resource consent process.
Tricroft agreed the remaining two thirds of the former Bunnings building will be used for retail activities permitted in Business C, which allow for trade and yard based suppliers, recreational facilities and entertainment activities. There is a 15-working day appeal period.
-By Mick Jensen