NPD: listen to the Amberley community

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Amberley residents are concerned and angry to unexpectedly hear that Nelson Petroleum Distributors Ltd plans to build a new petrol station on a prime site in the centre of the town.  Residents are not opposed to NPD locating on a suitable site in the Amberley area (and at least one very feasible site is available on the town boundary).  But in a town which already has a petrol station in its retail heart, plus another two nearby (yes we have three petrol stations already), the site chosen by NPD is inappropriate and will cause distress and disruption to the local community.

The site is less than 50m from the town’s library and post office to the north, and less than 50m from the entrance to the town’s main supermarket shopping centre. It’s the busiest part of Amberley for pedestrian traffic.  It lies across the road from a popular park and playground, a hair salon and the police station. The site is less than 50m from the busiest intersection in Amberley and the heavily used, iconic Blue Dairy. It’s on the “safe walk to school” route used by dozens of local school children twice a day.  Access to the site will bring an increase in right-hand turns by vehicles including trucks across State Highway One (which is already a problem for traffic management and pedestrian access in the town). Add in the usual concerns of noise, odour, air and light pollution for nearby residents and it is clear this site is not a suitable location for a petrol station.

Past town planning by the Hurunui District Council identified this part of Amberley as the “heart” of the town, and its use by residents reinforces this. The buildings currently on the site are used by community recycling and food bank organisations who have no other immediate options to move to. While the site is due for re-development, residents of Amberley hope for a more community-friendly and town-centre appropriate development than a large unmanned petrol station.  Imagine if NPD proposed to put an unmanned petrol station in Cathedral Square, or Lambton Quay, or on Auckland’s Queen Street. The scale is different, but the concept is the same, and the impact on Amberley residents is equally as distressing and concerning.

Therefore, we request NPD pause this development to take time to consult with the local community and consider alternative sites in the local area. We have been unfairly and unreasonably blind-sided by this news. There has been no attempt by NPD or the Hurunui District Council to engage the local community, to canvas reaction, or to listen to any community concerns. This decision has been rushed through local council consents process without any public notification. The community feels disempowered and taken for granted. This is clearly in direct conflict to NPD’s publicly stated vision of “strong family values and a caring business ethos”.