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Drive-through groceries… An artist’s impression of what the new Woolworths facility will look like

Supermarket heavyweight Woolworths is coming to Devonport.

A “Direct to Boot” grocery distribution outlet is planned at the former service station site at 25 Lake Rd.

The building will be used to store food and groceries, and to assemble online orders which customers will drive through to collect.

Five pick-up bays will be created in the forecourt, where Woolworths staff will load orders into vehicles.

Customers will “generally not leave their vehicles and there is no retail facility, or transaction undertaken on site”, says a resource consent application lodged by Woolworths with Auckland Council earlier this month.

Five staff car parks are to be provided. But the “only change to the building is a small loading dock and canopy at the rear”, which is permitted under zoning rules, the application says.

The “Direct to Boot” proposal has been prompted by an “increased demand in online orders that has occurred since the Covid-19 lockdowns”.

Woolworths said the proposal would “ensure that the needs of the community, in particular those within the Devonport area, can be met in a timely manner”.

Reduced vehicle kilometres travelled by customers would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Traffic to the site would be up to 41 vehicles per hour. However, orders could be managed by the facility, with customers given specific pick-up times to avoid congestion, said a traffic report included in the application.

With 13,600 vehicles travelling past the site per day (an Auckland Transport count from 13 June 2022) the effect of the proposal on Lake Rd traffic was minimal, the report said.

Woolworths, which is in the process of rebranding its grocery chain from Countdown to Woolworths, estimated the facility would distribute around 1100 orders per week when it reached its peak in 10 years’ time.

The light-industrial-zoned building is currently occupied by Pronto car repairs. A hire shop that shared the premises recently closed.

The building will be refurbished and renovated within its current footprint.

The former Mobil service station at the site ceased operating around 2006.

The site will be the first example of a Direct to Boot standalone facility with no supermarket attached, although the firm had recently launched the service at a number of supermarkets, Woolworths said.

Matt Grainger, Woolworths New Zealand Director of Property, said the new facility would mean customers would no longer need to drive up Lake Rd to the company’s Hauraki or Takapuna stores.

“We can’t comment on the consent process or timing, and our costs are commercially sensitive at this time,” he said.

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