The old design for the proposed waterfront hotel, which critics say will need a serious overhaul before it satisfies all parties. Image supplied.
Supporters of Dunedin's proposed waterfront hotel are
celebrating news of a deal to progress the controversial
However, opponents of the project - including two Dunedin
heritage building owners - are questioning whether it really
The mixed views came after the Dunedin City Council announced
it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the hotel
developer, Betterways Advisory Ltd, to try to advance the
Betterways director Jing Song, of Queenstown, said in a
statement she was pleased the project was progressing.
''After a very challenging two years, we are delighted that
the council has shown a commitment to our investment in this
Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie also
welcomed the news and praised the hard work of both sides
behind the scenes.
''I think it's potentially very exciting for the city to be
able to work through a number of the concerns and issues to a
point where, hopefully, they can be resolved and a
development can occur within the city.''
However, Dunedin heritage building owner Stephen Macknight
said concerns about the hotel's height remained a key issue,
and he doubted the deal changed anything.
That opposition would remain unless the developer was
prepared to consider ''radically'' changing the design, to
minimise the impact on surrounding heritage buildings
including his own, he said.
Without such an agreement, he predicted the project would
eventually end up back in the Environment Court.
''I'm all for trying to look for solutions to problems ... if
this is the best solution they can come up with, I don't
think it's moved anything forward particularly.''
Owner of the former chief post office, Geoff Thomson, of
Distinction Hotels, was also unconvinced by the plan, which
could see the new hotel disrupting some harbour views from
He recently unveiled plans for a $15 million redevelopment of
the former chief post office, to turn it into a four-star
plus hotel and offices, work on which was finally under way.
The new hotel would also introduce more competition into the
market, although Mr Thomson said he was not yet clear what
impact that would have on the economics underpinning his
However, Mr Thomson, who lived outside Dunedin, said he had
little choice but to ''put up with'' the new hotel, if built.
''It's up to the people who actually live there full time to
determine what they want to look at and put up with.''
Dunedin heritage building advocate Peter Entwisle went
further, urging the council and Betterways to give up their
plans altogether or find another site.
He doubted the urban design panel would be able to produce a
revised design that satisfied all parties, including critics
of the project, while protecting surrounding heritage
The proposed hotel's height and location, next to low-rise
heritage buildings, were key issues, and any building that
resulted from the deal was likely to be ''some form of
skyscraper'', he said.
Even the idea of a bridge, linking the hotel and waterfront
with Queens Gardens, should be opposed, because it would
disrupt the last remaining ''view shaft'' directly from the
central business district to the harbour, he said.