Malls in New Zealand are under increasing pressure to offer something new and exciting to consumers; be it a new dining area, an integrated community hub with library and a town square or an international brand that hasn’t seen in New Zealand yet.
Kiwi Property’s $200 million expansion of Sylvia Park to make way for H&M and possibly other international big names in 2016 shows the gloves off when it comes to shopping centres competing with one another.
The newest addition to the West Auckland shopping scene, NorthWest shopping centre, LynnMall’s new Brickworks dining area and the $550 million downtown shopping centre in the works by Precinct Properties have all also added fuel to the fire.
Now, other centres are scrambling to catch up with expansions.
Scentre Group is planning on almost doubling St Lukes in size, increasing its floor space by 70 percent.
Currently the mall is 39,793 square metres, but this could grow to 92,500 square metres, including 15,000 square metres for offices.
The extension would add around 1500 carparks to the already existing 2018.
Today, it was decided that the expansion of St Luke will be non-notified – in other words, considered without any public input.
The decision is based off the Resource Management Act, which states consent doesn’t need to be gained if the effects are “no more than minor” on the parties involved and the environment.
Councillor Linda Cooper who chaired the Hearings Panel says that the effects in the application are considered less than minor.
“The proposal is in line with the St Lukes concept plan, which was developed following extensive public consultation," she says.
“The proposal will have a height and separation distance to neighbouring properties that will avoid dominance, amenity or shadowing effects for neighbours.
“It also considers all traffic aspects and does not anticipate additional parking demands on surrounding roads.”
Locals are miffed they don’t get to have a say in the matter and have said they’re worried about things like noise, crowds and traffic, while others have said the expansion would gut Mt Albert and Pt Chevalier’s local shopping strips.
The expansion has been in the works for the past five years, with Scentre Group previously buying up neighbouring properties.
Local residents previously went through a mediation process with the council in 2011 to reach an agreement about the extension of Exter Rd into Aroha St.
The Environment Court signed off plans in 2012.
St Lukes’ annual sales total $320 million, with more than eight million people visiting it each year.
Meanwhile, Milford Mall owner New Zealand Retail Property Group (NZRPG) is also picking up the pace with its long-term plans for expansion.
Submissions on its consent application for expansions closed 5 November.
The plans will see 480 square metres of the existing mall space to be demolished and 178 car parks demolished to make room for apartments.
Twenty spaces for new shops will also be included in the apartment block.
“As retail trends and styles change over time NZRPG recognizes that the retail centre space needs to be modernized and the depth of the retail offer increased. A further retail expansion with the creation of The Plaza will continue to enhance customer's shopping experience. The Plaza will be an outdoor food and dining area around the pohutukawas and a retail extension across the current carpark, both on Milford Road and will provide pedestrian’s access to the Milford Centre,” it says on its website.
Similar to St Luke’s controversies, neighbours in Milford also oppose the apartment and mall expansion plans.
NZRPG originally planned to build towers up to 16 levels high in an area zoned for two to four levels.
Neighbours said the towers were inappropriate for the area, with resident William McCandless telling the Environment Court in 2013 he was "gobsmacked" developer Milford Centre would propose towers 64 metres in height when the height trigger was only 11 metres.
The Milford Rd tower is now proposed to be 11 storeys tall, with the tallest tower on Omana Rd proposed to be about 16 storeys tall, or 63 metres high. Another tower on Omana Rd will be varied in height, reaching up to eight storeys. These three towers add up to 235 apartments in three blocks.
The Environment Court is expected to make a ruling on NZRPG’s proposals early next year.