The proposed 27-storey waterfront hotel. Image supplied.
An Environment Court appeal that could decide the fate of
Dunedin's proposed waterfront hotel is destined for a hearing,
unless the developers reconsider the height of their building,
an opponent says.
The comment from Christchurch barrister John Hardie,
representing Capri Enterprises Ltd, which opposed the hotel,
came in court documents leaked to the Otago Daily
Mr Hardie, in a memorandum to the court, said height was the
''fundamental issue'' and would be again during the court's
However, mediation that sought to reach an agreement -
thereby avoiding a time-consuming and costly hearing - would
only achieve ''some purpose'' if the developers were prepared
to discuss the hotel's height, he believed.
''In the absence of a willingness to discuss a more modest
proposal, the matter will need to go to a hearing,'' he said.
His comments came after Betterways director Jing Song, of
Queenstown, this week expressed frustration at the time, cost
and slow progress involved in behind-the-scenes talks with
the Dunedin City Council.
She also appeared to step back from an earlier offer to
compromise on the hotel's height, saying there were no
alternative plans on the table.
Betterways lost its bid for resource consent for the
controversial 27-storey, $100 million tower last year,
prompting an Environment Court appeal that was placed on hold
while talks with the council continued.
If talks broke down, Betterways could pursue the project by
trying to reach agreement with all parties through the
court's mediation process, or by pursuing a costly and
time-consuming court hearing.
Betterways lawyer Phil Page, in a memorandum to the court
last month, suggested a new timetable that would give the
company until March 28 to announce its next move.
Court staff said at the time that was yet to be accepted, but
they could not be contacted for an update yesterday.
In his memorandum, Mr Page also said the ''key issue''
remained connectivity between the proposed hotel and the
central business district, while Ms Song this week said
planning issues were still to be addressed.
However, Mr Hardie, in his memorandum, said Mr Page's view
''fails to either disclose or deal with the fundamental
issue'', which was not ''some walkway connection'' but the
proposed hotel's height.
''That was the reason the initial application drew more
submissions in opposition than any other application that had
ever been filed with the Dunedin City Council.''
Those concerns would re-emerge in evidence to the Environment
Court, meaning mediation would work only if the hotel's
height was up for discussion, he said.
Betterways should be required to tell the court whether it
would be prepared to discuss the hotel's height during the
mediation process, he said. If it was not, the court should
proceed to a hearing ''so that the court can rule on that
fundamental issue'', he said.
Mr Hardie's comments came after he argued against the hotel
on Capri's behalf during last year's resource consent
However, he was also forced to deny commercial competition
was behind Capri's opposition, after being questioned about
the company's motives.
Companies Office records listed hotel magnate Earl Hagaman,
the chairman of Scenic Circle Hotels, as Capri's sole