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Neighbours in dark as retail hub takes shape

A retail hub expected to breathe new life into a Blenheim suburb looks almost complete, but its tenants are still anyone's guess.

Work on the former Countdown building, in Redwoodtown, has been going on for nine months and while businesses in the area agree it will improve the area, they are in the dark over what might pop up.

The building was owned by Redwoodtown Development Ltd and director Phil Robinson did not answer calls about the project last week.

Neighbouring Haven Cafe manager Shawnee Griffiths said the developers had been "tight-lipped" about what was going in, although she had heard a gym was on the cards.

"We don't know anything, they're very tight-lipped on that, it's been a good couple of months or so since they stopped construction and nothing much has happened since, they've got some plumbers in there but that's about it.

Griffiths believed the new businesses would be good for the area. The small strip of shops on Cleghorn St already included two fish and chip shops, two hairdressers, a watchmaker, charity shops, a furniture shop and a laundry.

"A few years ago this place was a ghost town and it would be good to have more businesses which means there will be more people out and about," she said.

But until the new shops had been announced, the cafe could not say much else and they were not concerned about their customer base, Griffiths said.

"We've been open around two years now and we're doing fine but we're not bothered at all, we have our loyal customers.

Redwoodtown watchmaker Philip Gibbison had also only heard about a gym but not much else.

"Apart from the gym, I just don't know.

"We have heard nothing about any of it at any stage, we didn't hear anything about the new supermarket and now we haven't heard anything about the development, there has been no consultation, no nothing," he said.

"I would have thought they would have been around everybody here to say 'this is what we've planned', not that we would have grizzled about it," he said.

The developers did tell him they would not have conflicting businesses.

"But I think they're looking at putting in a cafe and there's [already] a cafe right across this way and I thought, 'that's a bit rude'," he said.

It was just a waiting game, Gibbison said.

"You see trucks coming and going and stuff disappearing inside there and not coming out again and we're just waiting to see what's going to turn up," he said.

The site on the corner of Weld and Cleghorn St was a Countdown supermarket until April 2015. The site was empty until development started earlier this year.

Three other shops in the area also confirmed that they had not heard of what might go in the new development.

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