'Desperate shortage' of retail space, says Auckland councillor

10:53 AM Thursday July 24, 2014 Anne Gibson

Auckland is suffering a desperate shortage of land for business expansion and retailing with a "critical short supply" of large format shopping space, says one Auckland councillor.

Cameron Brewer told the Property Council's retail conference how the city's retail space was forecast to expand from 3.9 million square metres to 5.7 million sq m by 2041 to keep pace with population growth, as an extra 700,000 people would have arrived by then.

"There's insatiable demand so some of us at the council are concerned and critical of business land supply in Auckland," he said, citing Colliers International and the Property Council as also speaking out about the problem.

As an illustration of the sector's growth, Brewer said retail employment growth was set to increase by 26 per cent in the next 30 years.

Some people had feared retail expansion, particularly large-format growth, Brewer said.

"277 was going to destroy Newmarket strip shopping and Sylvia Park was set to suck the life blood out of Ellerslie, but that never happened" Brewer said.

Auckland had 100 villages which gave it a unique character. But only 7 per cent of Auckland's retail floor space was in the CBD.

Campbell Barbour, general manager of NZ Retail Property Group which owns the Milford mall and Westgate, said about 9000 residences were consented in Special Housing Areas around Westgate.

Auckland would have a "Figure Eight" motorway system by 2017 and many cities around the world sought this degree to connectivity, he said.

"Areas that were on the edge, out the end of the motorway, are now on the motorway system and around that has been big changes with land use planning," he said.

"The north has shifted west and the west has shifted north so we have a new area - Upper Harbour and it's an ideal location for Westgate," he said.

Regional centres with good motorway connections displayed exponential growth over a short period of time, Barbour said.

Barbour said about 250,000sq m of new retail space was being developed at Westgate, which on a New Zealand scale was enormous.

"This is not a shopping centre but an amalgamation of all types of development you usually see in one location," Barbour said, referring to the creation of a new town centre in Auckland.

Auckland Council had committed about $200 million at Westgate, and there was a $300 million extension of the motorway.

"This is already a $1 billion project. Auckland Council has thrown a lot of money at high quality green networks and roading. Westgate has been identified as a metropolitan town centre," he said.

Around 30,000 houses could be developed in the wider area in the next 20 years, he said, referring to big new projects in the area such as Hobsonville Point.

People doubted decentralised locations like Albany initially, he said, but they had been proved wrong.

DNZ Property Group bought land at Westgate for a new 30,000sq m internal mall and NZ Retail Property Group was about to start building a new bulk retail centre for Harvey Norman, Briscoes, Warehouse Stationary and many others.

-NZ Herald