Plans for a 28-storey waterfront hotel towering over Dunedin
have been dealt a blow by a Dunedin City Council report that
criticises the design and recommends resource consent be
However, the man fronting the $100 million project,
Betterways Advisory Ltd director Steve Rodgers, insisted
yesterday he was still confident the hotel would be built.
The report by council planner Lianne Darby, made public
yesterday, identified the hotel's height and dominant
appearance as among areas of concern.
A host of technical worries also raised doubts, ranging from
traffic problems and shading to a lack of information about
wind gusts magnified by the tower's height.
However, the potential benefits of the project were also
canvassed, and Ms Darby's report left the door ajar by
including a list of detailed conditions to impose if consent
were granted, despite her recommendation.
That included referring the hotel's design to a
council-appointed panel of experts for final approval, to
help improve the hotel's appearance before any construction.
Mr Rodgers yesterday said he was surprised by the report's
recommendation but believed including the list of conditions
showed the hotel was close to winning approval.
"We think we can get over that hurdle," he said. "A wee bit
of effort and we are over the line."
Council resource consents manager Alan Worthington said
including the conditions while recommending consent be
declined would mean a "more robust and timely process", but
did not indicate which way the decision might go.
That would be up to the council's hearings committee, which
would meet on December 3 to begin hearing the applicant's
case, supporting evidence and public submissions.
Plans for the five-star hotel and apartment tower were
unveiled in May and immediately triggered an outcry,
resulting in 507 public submissions, 457 opposed, 43 in
support and seven neutral.
The building is planned for vacant industrial land at 41
Wharf St and includes a rooftop terrace and bar, but is
considered a non-complying activity under the council's
Ms Darby's report said about 60% of submissions objected to
the hotel's height, arguing it was "too tall, out of
character ... or badly positioned", and some would continue
to see it as "severe and offensive", even with design
"Because of its bulk and location, it cannot be missed.
Because it is located at the water's edge, it imposes its
presence on the harbour view from a large range of
When viewed from a distance, the hotel would not break the
skyline and would therefore not "dominate" views from
It would disrupt the outline of Otago Harbour and tower over
some inner-city buildings, but the Resource Management Act
did not protect views, meaning "this reason alone is not
sufficient for [the] council to decline consent", she said.
On the positive side, the hotel would put underused land to
use, enhance the site and provide new employment
opportunities for Dunedin.
"It is a rare opportunity for a development of this size to
be established in Dunedin with no direct costs to the
However, its design meant it would struggle to fit in its
historic surroundings and there would be "some adverse
effects on the heritage values of the surrounding area", she
The council's consulting urban planner and designer, Ian
Munro, of Urbanism Plus, said the "retrospective" design
appeared to be from the mid-20th century, and meant the hotel
would be "stark and ... plainly out of context" with its
It had the potential to be a "landmark structure of high
quality", but only if a higher design standard were enforced,
which could alleviate many concerns, he believed.
While a 15-storey, 60m-high building would better suit the
site, the potential to improve the design and finish meant he
did not recommend reducing the hotel's overall height.
Adding a modern, tall structure on the fringe of heritage
buildings was consistent with the approach adopted in Europe,
where modern "outer" cities ringed smaller, historic "inner"
cities, Mr Munro said.
The Wharf St site was also the closest "choke point" between
the waterfront and the inner city, making it the "obvious
connection point" between the two.
However, a new footbridge would be needed to link the hotel
site properly to the inner city, Ms Darby's report said,
something Mr Rodgers addressed when unveiling early - and
uncosted - plans this week for a new pedestrian and cyclist
Ms Darby's report also warned the hotel could cause traffic
problems in Wharf St, identified a lack of parking for the
hotel, and concluded shadows cast across nearby Customhouse
Quay would be a problem each afternoon, year-round.
The hotel would also be built on reclaimed land at risk in an
earthquake, but the report accepted engineering solutions
could address that.
However, wind-tunnel testing was needed to determine the true
extent of the magnifying effect of the tower on wind speeds
in the area.
Next month's consent hearing would run from December 3 to 6.