Submitters have attacked plans for a $100 million
waterfront hotel in Dunedin, including the evidence used to
support its construction, at a hearing that will decide the
The critiques came as the Dunedin City Council's hearings
committee considered a third day of arguments about the
28-storey hotel, which Betterways Advisory Ltd wants to build
on vacant industrial land at 41 Wharf St.
The session was dominated by Christchurch barrister John
Hardie and two expert witnesses, appearing on behalf of Capri
Enterprises Ltd, which own significant tracts of industrial
land in Dunedin.
However, yesterday's session also featured the first
individual submitters, including Tessa Mills, who worried the
hotel would be out of place and ''completely wrong to me''.
''This isn't the right site for a hotel ... I just don't
think it fits,'' she told the committee late in the
Hours earlier, Mr Hardie began by questioning the credibility
of evidence given by Dunedin architect Francis Whitaker, who
gave a glowing endorsement of the hotel plans on Tuesday. Mr
Whitaker was an architect, but spoke about urban design
issues, which he was not qualified ''in any way, shape or
form'' to do, Mr Hardie said.
Mr Hardie said he was not asking for Mr Whitaker's evidence
to be excluded, but might if the same claims were made in the
''He's an architect ... he might have a view, but he's not,
on the evidence to date, qualified as an expert.''
Instead, Mr Whitaker's written evidence included ''a whole
lot of ifs and buts'' that showed the hotel would have
effects that were more than minor, meaning the hotel plan
should be rejected, Mr Hardie said.
He also took aim at evidence from Phil Page, the solicitor
acting for Betterways, saying a suggestion the hotel's height
should be ignored - because it would be built on industrial
land without height restrictions - was ''utter nonsense''.
''It's a ridiculous notion.''
Betterways had to show the hotel would have effects that were
no more than minor, or met the policies and objectives of the
district plan, and ''I don't think the proposal meets either
of the tests'', Mr Hardie said.
However, he was also forced to deny commercial competition
was behind Capri Enterprises Ltd's submissions, after being
questioned yesterday about the company's motives.
Companies Office records listed hotel magnate Earl Hagaman -
the chairman of Scenic Circle Hotels - as Capri's sole
director, as well as one of its shareholders.
Mr Hardie told the committee he had not asked his instructing
solicitor why Capri wanted to submit against the hotel, but
had satisfied himself the evidence was not motivated by
competing commercial interests.
That would otherwise have prescribed the type of evidence he
could present, he said.
''This company [Capri] is not involved in the hotel business
or the accommodation business. It's as simple as that.''
Auckland-based urban designer Clinton Bird, called by Mr
Hardie, said the ''critical issue'' was not details of the
hotel's design, but rather how the hotel would affect the
urban design of Dunedin.
He believed the hotel's height, bulk and scale required
''major changes'' to mitigate, and were ''insurmountable''.
''If the site is to be used for a hotel ... in my opinion the
hotel design should start afresh and not be just
architecturally fiddled with.''
Information supplied as part of the application was also
''inadequate and deficient'' in places, while montage images
showing what the hotel would look like from around the city
did not show the full picture, he said.
The hotel's height and location, surrounded by small
buildings and overlooked by the city, meant there would be
''significant'' adverse effects on Dunedin's architecture and
''unique city form'', he believed.
The result meant the city's tallest building, built on flat,
reclaimed land, ''will physically and symbolically upstage
the iconic towers and spires of Dunedin's historic
buildings'', he said.
Asked by independent commissioner John Lumsden whether, in
any city, ''someone has to be first'' with a tall building,
Mr Bird said that was true, but the proposed hotel would be
''a huge leap''.
Consultant traffic engineer Tony Penny, also called by Mr
Hardie, disagreed with many of Betterways' traffic engineer
Andy Carr's conclusions about the proposed site, instead
labelling it ''totally inappropriate'' from a transportation
Problems included ''indirect and confusing'' vehicle access
to the hotel - restricted to the south only - a lack of space
for a left-turning bay into the hotel and a risk to
pedestrians and cyclists passing the hotel.
Without roading improvements, the hotel's presence risked
increasing the number of nose-to-tail accidents caused by
vehicles slowing to enter the hotel site, and would increase
the accident rate in the area, he said.
A more detailed investigation of transport issues was needed,
but some of those already identified would be ''very
difficult to resolve'', he predicted.
The hearing continues today.