Vogel St retail application heard

Restricting parking and operating hours for a proposed new business in the warehouse precinct seems to be at odds with the Dunedin City Council's plans to attract more people to the area, planner Louise Taylor says.

Dunedin developer Lawrie Forbes has applied to convert the former two-storey Rogan McIndoe building at 76 Vogel St into a cafe and homeware store with a possible function room above.

His non-notified resource consent application was heard by a panel of Dunedin city councillors, Andrew Noone (chairman), David Benson-Pope and Lee Vandervis yesterday.

Council planner Amy Young said while retail activity was not included in the warehouse precinct plan, the plan was not embedded in the District Plan and the project would have no more than minor effects on the environment.

The council proposed conditions to the consent, including the function room not being used between 11am and 3pm to reduce the impact on kerbside parking, and restrictions on the size of signage, as no ''billboard''-size signage was wanted in the area.

She strongly recommended the applicant look at providing on-site parking and a condition allowing for a review of parking in future would be supported, she said.

Mr Forbes' tenant, Riah McLean, told the hearing the ''function room'', which could seat about 50, would be an area to expand the cafe business into if necessary during busy lunchtimes and weekends.

It also kept the option open of doing small wedding receptions and parties.

''First and foremost, it is for the expansion of the cafe, not a party room.''

In answer to a question from Mr Benson-Pope, she said the homewares she planned to sell included new ranges of furniture, retro-vintage furniture, rugs and cushions.

Mr Forbes said the second floor had been designed so it could also be two apartments or offices in the future and the latest design included a balcony to give indoor-outdoor flow, whatever its use.

Ms Taylor, of Mitchell Associates, Mr Forbes' planner, said those who could be affected by the business, including the building next door, which was being converted into four apartments, had given their approval for the project.

The owner and lessee would operate within the District Plan noise restrictions but continued to seek a larger sign than allowed, she said.

They were willing to compromise by reducing the proposed size from 5.76sqm to 3.6sqm, or 1.8m wide, she said.

However, no car parks were available on the cafe site and as the city council was planning to make changes to parking from all-day to short-term, two-hour parking, it should not be a problem, she said.

''We cannot live with controlling the hours to 11am to 3pm, as it would not make the businesses commercially viable.''

While the city council was concerned about the alignment of windows on the building's frontage, a lot of work had been done to make the layout of the cafe work economically so it was very important to retain the proposed window widths, she said.

Wide windows were needed to bring light into the building and promote the connection to street and the view of the Donald Reid building opposite.

The restoration of the building and the new business would contribute to the revitalisation and vibrancy of the warehouse district, she said.

The hearing was adjourned yesterday to allow the panel to make a site visit. A decision will be released at a later date.

rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

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