Does the CBD need another bottle shop?

The site of a proposed new liquor store.

A company which was refused a licence to open a retail bottle shop in the Tauranga CBD four years ago has again applied to open an off-licence at the top of the city’s main thoroughfare, Devonport Road.

And already it has run into opposition.

Kiwi Wines N Spirits Limited, trading as ‘The Bottle O Downtown’ has applied to the Tauranga District Licensing Committee for an off-licence at 4/110 Devonport Road – a vacant retail premises diagonally across the Devonport Road Elizabeth Street intersection from the new Farmers building.

The company proposes to trade as a bottle store between 9am and 10pm every day apart from Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Christmas Day and after 1pm on ANZAC Day.

After an earlier hearing in September 2016, the Licensing Committee refused an application by Kiwi Wines and Spirits for an off-licence at 56 Elizabeth Street. There were objections from the public, the Police and Toi Te Ora Public Health Service.

In its decision, the committee said applicants must do more than just meet the physical requirements of finding a building and obtaining the required certification. It expected applications to include evidence of consultation and an in-depth knowledge of the community in which they wished to open the bottle shop.

It won’t be known if those concerns still need to be addressed until the Licensing Committee holds an, as yet, unscheduled public hearing to consider the application and objections. So far there have been two formal objections and one inquiry which could become a formal objection.

But reaction to the latest plan has been swift and strong.

“I’m concerned,” says Jako Abrie, Tauranga city councillor, trustee of the Takitimu night shelter, volunteer and trustee with Under the Stars homeless advocacy group. “Another bottle shop 650 metres from the existing bottle shop in the CBD could cause harm.”

Jako says many people living on the street battle addiction. And given the proposed bottle shop’s proximity to Takitimu House, the People’s Project, Street Retreat and Milo Nights – all initiatives to assist the homeless - he suggests the location for the liquor outlet at the top of Devonport Road isn’t appropriate.   

The Devonport Towers body corporate has lodged a submission with the Licensing Committee. It says in part tha0:t “the ability to purchase single cans (beer or RTDs) would prove attractive to some who beg for money in the CBD and therefore the number of complaints about people drinking in the liquor ban area will no doubt rise”.

It’s also concerned the lack of public conveniences in the area will drive drinkers to “the nearest secluded spot which in this case is probably the rear of the building”. The body corporate also points out the proposed bottle shop would be next door to one bar and a few doors from another.

“It would be possible for patrons of those two establishments to pre-load from the bottleshop.

“Then the bars could possibly be deemed responsible for the behaviour of those patrons.”

The retailers’ lobby group Downtown Tauranga says it encourages new businesses locating to the city centre, however it would expect due diligence to be followed with a bottle store applying for a licence when one already exists in the city centre.

“This is not based on restricting competition but around the social and community impact associated with this kind of business,” says Downtown Tauranga’s Sally Cooke.

The retailers aren’t familiar with the details of the bottle shop plans and their application.

“But we would like to think that any application would be considered with a holistic view of the city centre and is assessed as part of the begging and rough sleeping discussions taking place at the moment to ensure that any concerns are mitigated.” It will continue to gauge feedback from its members.

The only other bottle store in the CBD refuses to sell to people identified as breaking the liquor ban in the CBD or supplying minors.

In its submission to the committee, Devonport Towers Body Corporate asks whether the new premises would do the same.

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