A graphic of what the Dunedin Hotel may look like if built.
Dunedin's proposed $100 million waterfront hotel would
offer a ''grandstand view'' of the city, and become one of New
Zealand's most spectacular venues in the process, if it is
built, a Dunedin architect says.
The endorsement came from Francis Whitaker, of Mason and
Wales Architects Ltd, on the second day of a resource consent
hearing to decide whether the proposed 28-storey tower can be
Mr Whitaker, giving evidence for Betterways Advisory Ltd, the
company seeking to build the hotel, said he did not think
Dunedin people quite realised the quality of the hotel being
''This city hotel may be unparalleled in New Zealand,'' he
told the hearing committee.
As evidence, he pointed to ''astonishing'' views of the city
and harbour from the hotel's banquet hall, reception area and
a level two swimming pool, which would look out over the
harbour from behind a glass wall.
Apartments and hotel rooms would also enjoy an ''outstanding
outlook'' over the city or waterfront, and ''will, in effect,
showcase the city of Dunedin''.
So, too, would the rooftop restaurant, bar and gardens, which
meant the roof was ''likely to be one of New Zealand's most
The 28-storey tower had attracted 507 submissions - 457 of
them opposed - with most critics worried about the building's
height, visual dominance and impact on nearby heritage
Yesterday's session was to hear from the first speakers
opposed to the hotel, but evidence from Betterways' experts
took longer than expected, meaning that would now begin
Instead, Mr Whitaker's evidence in favour of the hotel
dominated much of yesterday's session.
He argued the hotel could work alongside older buildings, as
was the case within the University of Otago campus, the
Information Services Building being an example. The hotel's
height was ''not inappropriate'', and if properly
constructed, would make ''a strong contribution to the
architecture and amenity of the city''.
It would also help ''book-end'' the central city's southern
fringe, balancing Forsyth Barr Stadium to the north, and a
new pedestrian overbridge, if built, would help re-establish
the city's link to its waterfront.
However, the hotel's design needed to be ''excellent'' and he
supported referring the final design to a council-appointed
panel of experts for approval.
The key was whether the final design made the hotel an asset,
or an eyesore.
''It has to be a good building ... If the current concept is
developed to the high standard that the design promises, a
worthy building will eventuate."
Asked by independent commissioner John Lumsden if he found
anything negative about the proposal, Mr Whitaker said there
was little to dislike.
However, he acknowledged that, in a city Dunedin's size,
''you start to form a view and have opinions''.
He had been invited to give evidence for Betterways after
expressing those views, but his company did not stand to
benefit from the project.
''My views were formed around whether this can be good for
Dunedin ... I think it delivers a huge bang for your buck,
which is very hard to improve."
Betterways director Steve Rodgers later said Mr Whitaker had
been given no guidance or brief for his evidence.
Mr Whitaker also denied the building would destroy views,
saying it would instead become ''an element within the
landscape'', although Mr Lumsden said ''quite a few''
submitters would disagree.
Consultant planner Don Anderson, who prepared Betterways'
consent application, told the committee the hotel met the
requirements of the Resource Management Act, as there were no
height limits for a building on the industrial site at 41
Some views would be lost because of the hotel, but views were
not guaranteed by the district plan, and neither were shading
effects arising from the hotel, he said.
He also said plans for a new pedestrian bridge - crossing the
railway line beside the hotel - would have been included in
Betterways' consent application, if the company was in a
position to do so.
However, the involvement of other landowning parties -
KiwiRail and the council - made that impossible, he said.
''We can only deal with the land we have control over ... but
we realise the importance of it."
Asked if the company could give an undertaking to pay for the
bridge, should the hotel be approved, Mr Rodgers said he
could not, as design and cost details for the bridge were not
However, he was ''very keen'' to discuss the proposal with
other parties, as it would ''certainly solve all the
problems'', and initial talks with council staff had already
begun, although no ''deals'' had been cut.
Betterways' solicitor, Phil Page, also suggested council
staff might - through their reports - be trying to force the
company to fund the overbridge through the consent process,
which was ''understandable'' but ''not lawful''.
The committee should grant consent for the hotel ''in the
full knowledge ... you are making the bridge much more
likely'', he said.
Yesterday's session also featured detailed questioning of
transport engineer Andy Carr, appearing for Betterways, about
the possible impact of extra traffic from the hotel on the
surrounding roading network.
He suggested unfunded council plans to add traffic signals at
the intersection of Wharf and Fryatt Sts might need to be
brought forward to help guests cross Wharf St to the
waterfront - the cost of which the hotel's developers might
contribute to, Mr Rodgers indicated. The hearing continues