The proposed 3,200 sqm Countdown store in Richmond has been met with criticism from day one, with a few residents fearing it would bring traffic to the neighbourhood. The company has repeatedly defended its project, pointing out that the store will generate 120 new jobs and create ‘an attractive gateway’ to Richmond.

New voices have now come forward to express concerns about the effect a new supermarket would have on Stoke centre. Tasman District Council policy planner Jacqui Deans said she was unable to identify significant economic and social benefits due to a lack of evidence. Therefore, she couldn’t make an overall recommendation on the plan change request.

Lack of consensus remains, despite all the supplementary evidence that Progressive Enterprises experts have been submitting over the past ten months. The company claims that, even if one of two supermarkets in Stoke were to close, this would have a very limited effect on the town centre, given that ‘cross-shopping trips are not an important part of how the centre is used by consumers.’

In particular, retail experts have found that 83 percent of sales were made when one supermarket only was visited.

Other experts, however, like Mike Cullen of Urbacity for Nelson City Council, estimate that Stoke may lose up to 1,500 visits per week, and overall they found the centre is not performing well.

Independent commissioner Dave Mahon has now invited Progressive to submit its reply.