Instead of the yawning gap that has occupied the site since I came here twenty years ago, there is now a modern building, with seven new shops along the Belgium Street frontage. Ostend looks like a real village, ready to meet the demands of a growing population. It is easy to forget this wasn’t the original plan.
When Countdown bought the site more than a decade ago and announced they would build a bigger supermarket there to replace the current one, the original plans favoured a huge car park along the Belgium Street frontage, with the building itself right at the back adjacent to Putiki Road. This would have created a ‘big box’ urban feeling rather than the village centre it will clearly become.
This positive outcome was the result of community feedback during the many years of public consultation that went into the HGIDP review; the expertise of local planning staff and the political will of successive Waiheke Community Boards, guided by the experienced hand of long serving Councillor Faye Storer.
Thanks to Faye, the planners and the independent commissioners who approved the project the long planned walkway between Belgium Street and Putiki Road became a condition of the consent and local walking access to the many small businesses popping up on the commercially zoned northern side of Putiki Road will be maintained.
As per usual on Waiheke there have been detractors: those who held up the District Plan for years; those who thought Waiheke didn’t need a new supermarket; those who thought the building was ‘too high’ or ‘too big’; those who wanted to keep having their say and putting their oar in long after the decisions were made and those who just wanted to do their usual carry-on and disrupt the project.
One can only shudder to think of the consequences if the current anti-business Waiheke Local Board had been in charge at this critical juncture. The island has had a narrow escape and has made a bold leap forward.
Congratulations to Progressive Enterprises and all those involved in delivering this building; to those workers who have worked around the clock to deliver the project on time and Good Luck to the businesses in the front shops! Let’s get in there and support them.