Big box update
Bunnings in North Wollongong to close
A super-sized Bunnings store in Sydney's inner west may get the green light for construction, as concerned local residents wait for a ruling on a contentious traffic management plan
Fri Sep 02 2022
Bunnings is set to close its Wollongong (NSW) store in January as the lease comes to an end next year, according to the Illawarra Mercury.
The store's last day of trade will be January 26, 2023 ahead of the lease expiring in March. Staff will be retained and redeployed at surrounding outlets.
Bunnings regional operations manager Robyn Hudson said the company's outlets in Bellambi and Kembla Grange offered customers a newer and expanded site. She told the Illawarra Mercury:
Because our lease expiry was nearing, and because North Wollongong is one of the older stores in our network, we've made the decision to close and service the local community from the nearby stores instead, rather than commit to a further lease term.
Bunnings opened on the current site in 1997 and the North Wollongong store is one of the oldest Bunnings in NSW. Ms Hudson said:
As our store portfolio evolves and new investments are made, we continually review our network and our needs in the local areas in which we operate. And while many of our stores play an important role for a long period of time, we continually reassess operations based on lease arrangements and store location.
The Wollongong location, which covers 27,320 square metres, delivers an annual rent of $1,501,165 to its owner BWP Trust and is currently valued at $26,100,000, according to BWP Trust's 2022 annual report.
Michael Wedgwood, managing director of BWP Management - the company that manages the properties on behalf of BWP Trust - said the business would assess what is next for the site.
We will undertake a detailed assessment of all potential uses to determine the best alternative for the site.
The property was originally purchased in 2003 for $12 million from BBC Hardware Limited which developed the site.
Bunnings thanked the staff at the North Wollongong store and said their work would be recognised in the coming months.
The Eastern City Planning Panel in NSW is expected to hand down a ruling relating to the planned construction of a Bunnings store in the suburb of Tempe.
Bunnings has proposed changes to approved plans to allow construction to begin with the approval of a traffic management plan by the planning panel. The traffic plan was made in consultation with Inner West Council and an independent traffic consultant.
However the planning panel deferred a decision on Bunnings' proposed changes in March, to give time for council to notify residents of the company's amended development application.
The Inner West Council recently released its Traffic Signals Feasibility Study (TSFS). Its findings include road safety such as Transport for NSW 'Warrants', traffic signals and road delineation. Physical constraint suggestions include a heritage wall and an IKEA service driveway. Councillor Mat Howard told Inner West Independent (City Hub):
We have been pressuring Bunnings to improve traffic arrangements at their new Tempe store for close to a year...
We wrote to the Minister for Transport and Roads seeking approval for these traffic signals almost a year ago, to no avail. Our independent and new feasibility study is clear that traffic lights is the safest option and will have the least impact on our community.
The Minister for Metropolitan Roads and Transport for NSW owe it to our community to do their job, assess the feasibility study and confirm it is the safest option for our community. Bunnings should then do the right thing by the community they want to be a part of.
City Hub reached out to Bunnings for comment and a spokesperson said they "remain committed to achieving a safe and efficient outcome for local residents, inclusive of traffic calming measures to minimise any impacts."
The spokesperson for Bunnings also said:
However, we're yet to receive approval of the Local Area Traffic Management Plan (LATM), which is delaying the implementation of our development consent issued three years ago. We understand the unchanged LATM will now be put out for consultation again.
We continue to participate in the Sydney Eastern City Planning Panel process and are hopeful the matter can be resolved through the scheduled meeting on 1 September, so we can move the project forward and provide certainty to our contracted builder and hundreds of trades people who will be engaged to undertake the work.
The battle against the proposed Tempe store is now in its sixth year.The Eastern City Planning Panel deferred a decision on Bunnings' proposed changes to Bunnings Tempe store - HNN Flash #88, April 2022