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Getting the green light for a new supermarket and emergency management centre for north Christchurch

Papanui Pak’nSave
is so much more
than a supermarket

In 2019, Foodstuffs South Island asked Abley to prepare an Integrated Transport Assessment to accompany their resource consent application for a key development in Papanui.

This application is critical to Christchurch because the proposed development includes not only a large Pak’nSave supermarket, but also an emergency management centre.

This centre will be engineered to withstand a significant natural disaster, like the rupture of the Alpine Fault. An emergency water bore, generators, food and fuel provisions and helicopter landing facilities ensure the site can become a disaster response hub for the Christchurch community.

But the project isn’t straightforward.

Foodstuffs are exiting a shopping centre to occupy their new site. Existing industrial tenants on the Papanui site must move to their own new premises. The complexity of the new Foodstuffs facility and the built-up nature of the site, with residential, industrial and commercial properties surrounding, made the resource consent process intricate and demanding.

Foodstuffs were juggling many elements under extreme time pressure. They needed a team of resource consent specialists they could trust.

Why Foodstuffs South Island choose Abley to support their resource consents

We sat down with Foodstuffs South Island’s Property Development Manager, Rebecca Parish to talk about the project, and ask her why she chooses to work with Abley.

Rebecca noted that Foodstuffs have worked with Abley for transport advice on resource consents since 2013. In that time, Abley have supported more than 80 consent applications for them.

We deem Abley to be the best in New Zealand. I have utmost confidence in them. I enjoy the relationship that I have with Steve and Paul, and I have an awful lot of respect for them”, Rebecca added.

Foodstuffs South Island supplies New World, Pak’nSave and Four Square supermarkets, along with a group of smaller franchises like Raeward Fresh and On The Spot. Rebecca explains that supermarkets are the most competitive industry in New Zealand.

We’re fiercely watchful of new developments and proposals and sensitive to competitor activity. We’re very demanding as a client because we expect things to be done fast and well. You need to understand us. You need to understand our language. And you need to understand our industry.

We have a really good relationship with Abley. Choosing the same consultants each time is more economic for us in terms of time. Reducing repetition, increasing understanding and having consistency is important to us.”

Rebecca also stressed the importance of getting buy in from Christchurch City Council and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, saying:

Abley help navigate those relationships. Their land development team have strong relationships within both the council and the Waka Kotahi teams that go back many years.”


"We deem Abley to be the best in New Zealand. I have utmost confidence in them. I enjoy the relationship that I have with Steve and Paul, and I have an awful lot of respect for them”

Rebecca ParishProperty Development Manager, Foodstuffs South Island

Using traffic simulation to support resource consent applications

The new supermarket sits on a site off Main North Road. Papanui is a densely populated suburb, with heavy traffic. We knew that Christchurch City Council and NZTA would be concerned about the impact of a new shopping hub, on an already busy network. 

So, we built a microsimulation transport model to assess the impact of the new supermarket on the road network. This modelling showed, that although the supermarket would generate lots of traffic, most of the trips were already on the network. The communities who would be using the new Pak’nSave already passed by the site or would divert from other shops in the local network.

To make approaches to the supermarket safer, we proposed extensive road safety improvements as part of the application. A key feature was a new intersection with traffic lights on Main North Road. This gives safer, more efficient access for cars, and better pedestrian access across the busy main road.

We also proposed traffic signal optimisation at the Main North Road / Northcote Road / QEII Drive signals to improve both the safety and efficiency of the intersection.

Rebecca explains the value Abley adds to Foodstuff’s development process.

Foodstuffs understand how a supermarket car park should be laid out, because we’ve been doing it for years. What we don’t know, is how to do that higher-level technical analysis to understand the impact our developments have on the wider transport infrastructure. That’s what we engage Abley for. We need their modelling. I’m employing the brains.”

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Winning the green light to proceed

This resource consent application hearing was by no means a done deal. The application attracted many submissions both in support and in opposition, and traffic was a highly sensitive issue for Council transport planners, Waka Kotahi and Environment Canterbury. The application was publicly notified and referred to a hearing where Abley provided expert transport evidence.

The resource consent was approved in February 2020 by an independent commissioner. The commissioner’s decision said the plan would have a positive effect on the area and any potential negative effects could be managed. The decision said: “The risk of the proposal giving rise to precedent effects or undermining the integrity of the (district) plan is negligible.”

Rebecca calls the decision an A+ outcome. “When you’re in a hearing situation, and you’ve got to present evidence, that evidence has to be very robust. And that evidence must go through a series of meetings and reviews with councils and other agencies. I can’t fault Abley’s support in these situations. It’s fantastic to have such a great relationship with Abley that I know I can fire off an email or call and be confident that they’ll respond very quickly and eloquently.

I’m proud of what Steve and Paul have achieved and how the company has grown. And I’m proud to be associated with Abley. I say that genuinely. I’m really proud and humbled that they are on my side. I certainly recommend them very much. But I don’t want to share them!”

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We look forward to talking with you.