The Dunedin City Council has approved the creation in the
district plan of new ''zone'' specifically for Mercy
Hospital, that will allow it to expand without having to
apply for resource consent for every project it undertakes
over the next 10 to 15 years.
The December decision notes the council is considering
introducing other site-specific zones where there are
well-established and sizeable facilities operating as
non-permitted activities. The change will allow easier growth
for the hospital, which the council says will give the Maori
Hill facility and its neighbours assurance as to what
expansions are proposed.
A new major facilities (Mercy Hospital) zone will be added to
the district plan and will outline issues, objectives,
policies, methods and rules of the zone, and a structure plan
including a site plan showing existing and proposed buildings
for the next 10-15 years.
The decision, from the council hearings committee of chairman
Cr Colin Weatherall and Crs Kate Wilson, Andrew Noone and
Teresa Stevenson, followed the receipt of 11 submissions, six
in support, two in opposition, one neutral and two
conditionally supportive, and a hearing on November 12 last
Council staff supported the proposal.
The reasons given by the committee for its decision included
that the rezoning of the site from residential 1 was
appropriate considering the longstanding and non-residential
use of the site as a hospital, and that definitions,
objectives, policies and rules for the site needed to be
tightened and clarified to avoid unintentional consequences
on neighbouring residences.
It supported the structure plan, finalised after a study of
the hospital's present and future needs.
Any future expansions not in accordance with the plan would
require resource consent.
Accessory buildings were not subject to the structure plan,
but had their own performance criteria, consistent or more
restrictive than in the residential 1 zone.
Mercy was a well-established medical facility valued by the
community as a service provider. It should be allowed to
continue its operation, and some expansion, as of right.
Having non-residential activities in residential areas was
not uncommon. Schools, for example, operated under a
designation that allowed them to undertake a new activity or
construct a building on-site without requiring a resource
The rezoning of the hospital was not unlike creating a
designation, but still provided the council with the
opportunity to specify future expansion and decline
activities which were unacceptable.
''It is our opinion that any precedent set will not be
undesirable; some well-established activities would well be
served by a specific zone that recognises their character and
place in the community.''
It is hoped the second generation district plan will include
new special zone provisions for health, educational, and
possibly sporting facilities.
Mercy Hospital chief executive Richard Whitney said people
could challenge the decision until February 20 but he
expected few would oppose it.
''I would like to think not. The process has been pretty
robust. I think the consultation process by ourselves and the
council have been extensive.''
He was ''delighted'' with the decision.
''It will allow us to do what we set out to do - to be
decisive in our view of the next 15 to 20 years.''