I’ve seen a massive public response to recent news that Kmart Shirley will be relocating to the new Northlink shopping precinct on Langdons Road in Papanui. Rumours of Kmart opening a store in the Papanui area have been circulating for a while. I’ve asked Kmart’s corporate office about this several times, and as recently as two months ago, the response was “We do not have plans in Papanui at this stage.” I’ve passed on these responses to Think Papanui readers in good faith. Decisions to close and open major retail stores aren’t made overnight, so I’m left wondering if the person I was communicating with was not aware of the plans being made at higher levels in the organisation, or was simply being economical with the truth?
Less than six weeks after that denial, Kmart Australia published the news that there would indeed be a Kmart store opening in Langdons Road in Papanui, and that this would be at the expense of the store in The Palms mall in Shirley, which is to close.
At the time of writing this article, Think Papanui’s post on Kmart’s move from Shirley to Papanui has reached close to 100,000 people, and generated over six thousand comments. Because of this volume I haven’t been able to keep across the details of the feedback, but the main themes are clear:
- People happy that Kmart will open in Papanui
- People unhappy that Kmart will close in Shirley
- People questioning the viability of The Palms without Kmart as an anchor tenant (noting that the Countdown supermarket is rumoured to be on the move from The Palms too)
- Concerns about access in relation to the Langdons Road site
[Update: in an article on Stuff dated 1 May 2019, a Countdown spokeswoman is quoted saying they had no immediate plans for land further north on Marshland Rd, or to move away from The Palms.]
The Northlink site that Kmart is moving to has a significant amount of off-street parking, but is not close to public transport – the nearest bus stops are on the Orbiter route on Harewood Road, about 500m away. The Main North Road bus stops outside Northlands Mall are about a kilometre away. (This contrasts with the current Shirley Kmart site, which is adjacent to the Orbiter, Orange line, 44, 60, 100, and 135 bus routes.) Increased traffic in the Langdons Road area is going to put pressure on the Restell St / Langdons Rd / Sisson Dr intersection, and also on the Langdons Rd / Greers Rd intersection. Commenters have also noted that after this move, there will be two Kmart stores in the west of Christchurch (Ricccarton and Papanui), and none in the east.
More vehicle movements means more risk to pedestrians. A significant number of school children walk along, and cross, Langdons Rd. There are also elderly pedestrians, with a number of retirement homes in the area.
Question for readers
What do you think about Kmart’s announcement? What are the issues that the Council & Community Board should be considering in relation to this?